January 31, 2007
Matthew Yglesias writes about Bush and other Republicans repeatedly using the infantile, schoolyard taunt "Democrat Party" when talking about the Democratic Party.
To call someone by something other than the name he wishes to be called by is rude. To make a mistake is forgivable, but to persist -- deliberately -- in declining to use your adversary's proper name is rude and insulting. It's not a big deal unless you take standing up for yourself to be a big deal. When Democrats go on TV and let a conservative get away with the phrase "Democrat Party" it's signaling that Democrats are weak. They're too weak to stand up for themselves. They're too weak to have a sense of group solidarity or party loyalty. They're inclined to let things slide. They don't want to make a scene. They don't like to have a fight. They're weak. Is a political party that can't even protect its own name really going to keep America safe?I hwrote about this when Rep. Boenher insulted Speaker Pelosi while handing her the gavel, when Bush did it the day after the election and a year before that, and in 2002 I wrote about the John Birch Society origins of the insult.
... But the fact that this would seem petty and bizarre is the point: "Democratic" is the correct word and this isn't an obscure point. That everyone lets conservatives say "Democrat" over and over again is part of establishing mainstream acceptance of the idea that the conservative media operates in an accuracy free zone. They're propagandists and that's okay by the MSM -- no need to get things right!
Update - Paperwight weighs in:
And it does matter, because it's just a punkass bully trick to show people who's the boss. I had a boss who did this to me once, and it was a deliberate attempt to belittle me. The difference between me and the Democrats is that while I chose not to engage in a career-limiting move by calling my boss a petty jackass, the Dems could actually enhance their position by calling the Republicans on this bullshit:President Bush/Mitch McConnell/Newt Gingrich/John Gibson/Frank Luntz calling the Democratic Party the "Democrat" Party makes me wonder why any American would take this guy seriously. I mean, there are only two major political parties in the United States, and this guy apparently only knows the name of one. It makes you wonder if they can remember where their front door is, or if they have to ask their wife every morning.Problem solved. You're not whining, you're not complaining, and your opponent is the dumbass who can't remember your name. And then if they say "oh, I know the name" then they can't ever get it wrong again. This game is not hard, people. Attack, always attack. Force your opponent to defend, request, explain.
This piece was first published at AlterNet. This post is revised and extended from that piece.
The media interest surrounding Private Joshua Sparling's claim that he was spit at during the Washington, DC protest merits skepticism considering that his previous claims of victimhood have turned out inaccurate, and that he's been a frequent associate of right-wing figures such as Sean Hannity and Oliver North.
There is a conventional wisdom that Vietnam War protesters included fringe elements who did uncivil things, including spitting at soldiers returning from Vietnam. Evidence of this belief in the mainstream media appeared as recently as early this month in Newsweek earlier this month wrote,,
Returning [Vietnam] GIs were sometimes jeered and even spat upon in airports; they learned to change quickly into civilian clothes.Decades later, little has changed. With the headline "SPITTING MATCH WITH DISABLED VET..." the Drudge Report on Monday linked to New York Times coverage of the weekend marches against President Bush's Iraq "surge" plan to escalate the war. The story, Protest Focuses on Iraq Troop Increase, included the following:
There were a few tense moments, however, including an encounter involving Joshua Sparling, 25, who was on crutches and who said he was a corporal with the 82nd Airborne Division and lost his right leg below the knee in Ramadi, Iraq. Mr. Sparling spoke at a smaller rally held earlier in the day at the United States Navy Memorial, and voiced his support for the administration’s policies in Iraq.Wow -- those horrible "antiwar protesters" are still at it! And what unspoken message is sent by this? That "antiwar protesters" are such terrible people, doing such terrible things.
Later, as antiwar protesters passed where he and his group were standing, words were exchanged and one of the antiwar protestors spit at the ground near Mr. Sparling; he spit back.
But as it happens, Joshua Sparling has turned up time and time again in the news, in stories claiming he has been spat at by - and even received death threats from - left-wing "antiwar protesters."
At the site The Left Coaster, blogger Mary wrote,
It seems he is the scapegoat for those who hate Bush's war and he is condemned to live in a Twilight Zone world where he experiences all the outrages that were visited on vets during the Vietnam War. Whenever the wacko warhawks need to display a victim of the American people's disdain for the war, he is hauled out to take another one for the team.Joshua Sparling first appeared in the news in a United States Military Academy Public Affairs reference, in an August 8, 2005 story quoted cited by the West Point "public affairs" (PR) office, Future Plebes Learn Crafts Of War,
Last week, as a machine gun fired blanks in the distance ... dodged from cover-to-cover as they ran the assault course, which teaches the cadets how to use grenades in combat.In December, 2005, as reported on the Fox News show Fox & Friends Sparling supposedly receives a Christmas card with a death threat,with a death threat Sparling claimed not to have kept the envelope, just the note inside. Sparling appears on Sean Hannity's radio show to talk about this incident.
82nd Pvt. Joshua Sparling was right behind them, offering advice the whole way.
"Always have two hands on your weapon. That way if you see anybody - boom, boom," he yelled at Byrnes as she ran for cover, her M-16 flailing at her side. ... "You have to keep down below that cover so you don't get popped in the head," Sparling yelled. Lin quickly tucked his head back behind the stump.
It turned out the card was sent by a white supremacist.
Sparling also found fame as a featured Republican guest at the 2006 State of the Union address, introduced by the GOP representative from his home district, Candice Miller:
“When I first spoke with Josh he told me how proud he was to provide security for the Iraqi election in October where he saw democracy take root. I thought it was only fitting that he come to see, in person, his Commander-In-Chief give an update on the war and watch our own democracy in action."Not long after this, Sparling was harassed by an antiwar and anti-military liberal at an airport,
... there was no wheel chair, no one at the SPIRIT counter and no security. ... The security guard said, “You are no different than any other passenger with no boarding pass - no go.”Sparling has also appeared with Ollie North at "Freedom Alliance" rallies. (There is a picture of Sparling at one of these rallies, standing next to Ann Coulter.)
My son started to cry uncontrollably and told the guard to go to hell. Another lady spoke up and said, “That’s what you get for fighting in a war we have no business in.” Madder and very emotional I asked, “Can’t you remember 9-11?” She responded that was just our excuse to be in Iraq when we should not be there and we deserved whatever we got. That is when my son really lost it. Three WWII vets were coming off flights into DC, gave my son a hug, and stood up to the lady and security guard. They stayed with my son until he flew out.
And, most recently, Sparling also appeared in an AP story about the weekend's anti-war march, this time neglecting to mention the spitting incident,
About 40 people staged a counter-protest, including Army Cpl. Joshua Sparling, 25, who lost his leg to a bomb in Iraq.(A YouTube video from the weekend march shows Sparling standing next to a sign that reads, "If Osama was a piece of ass, Clinton would have nailed him.")
He said the anti-war protesters, especially those who are veterans or who are on active duty, "need to remember the sacrifice we have made and what our fallen comrades would say if they were alive."
So the New York Times, Washington Post and others did not choose just any random Iraq war vet to interview. A Google search of "Joshua Sparling" yields 64,800 results.
And it is worth noting that the major media chose to cover this from the angle of "antiwar protesters spitting at veterans." There was another story available. The marchers represented the views of, according to current polls, a majority of the American public. Joshua Sparling was part of a group that appeared to be attempting to provoke the crowd. A witness to the activities of Sparling's group is quoted at Hughes for America, saying,
Shortly after the event began, I noticed Sparling and his small group - himself, a woman wearing the same 82nd Airborne sweatshirt and another young man - push their way to the front. ... When everyone would cheer a particular speaker, he first stood out by loudly booing. ... Sparling's Freeper friends across the street had spent the better part of an hour holding up ridiculous signs like "Anti-American peaceniks think sedition is patriotic" and "We gave peace a chance. We got 9/11". Also, they hung an effigy of Jane Fonda. These weren't friendly people. They were people looking to provoke a response.Given this account, one wonders why the media chose to write of Sparling as a victim of the crowd?
[...] Before I even noticed Sparling's leg, I thought the kid was a right-wing plant in our group. I thought we were going to be marching, peacefully, and this kid would break a window or otherwise do something to make for an ugly scene, making what was actually a peaceful protest look anything but. It looked to me like he was taking great pains to stand out in what he was doing. ... I can safely say Sparling and his group showed up looking to start something...
Finally, a look at larger historical question: were Vietnam Veterans spat at by "protesters?"
Mary's Left Coaster blog post refers us to an article by Jerry Lembcke from 2005, Debunking a Spitting Image,
For a book I wrote in 1998 I looked back to the time when the spit was supposedly flying, the late 1960s and early 1970s. I found nothing. No news reports or even claims that someone was being spat on.Where does this smear technique come from? What is gained by portraying veterans as victims of liberals spitting at them or harassing them? Perhaps a clue comes from the writings of Republican pundit David Horowitz. Horowitz writes that it is important to portray yourself as a victim, saying
... A 1971 Harris poll conducted for the Veterans Administration found over 90 percent of Vietnam veterans reporting a friendly homecoming. Far from spitting on veterans, the antiwar movement welcomed them into its ranks and thousands of veterans joined the opposition to the war.
... Remembering the war in Vietnam through the images of betrayal is dangerous because it rekindles the hope that wars like it, in countries where we are not welcomed, can be won. It disparages the reputation of those who opposed that war and intimidates a new generation of activists now finding the courage to resist Vietnam-type ventures in the 21st century.
"The stories work for you if you are the victim or if you are helping someone who is perceived to be a victim. Americans like heroes who care, and they identify with underdogs."Horowitz also advises Republicans,
"to manipulate the public's feelings in support of your agenda, while mobilizing passions of fear and resentment against your opponent."Horowitz is not just any Republican pundit. John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton wrote about Horowitz' influence in The War at Home,
"During the 2000 presidential and congressional elections, every Republican member of the U.S. Congress received a free pamphlet, compliments of Congressman Tom DeLay, the party's majority whip. Written by conservative activist David Horowitz, the pamphlet was called The Art of Political War: How Republicans Can Fight to Win. It came with an endorsement on the cover by Karl Rove, the senior advisor to then-candidate George W. Bush.Stories of victimhood such as Sparling's come at a time when the White House is desperate to gain public support in its self-perceived war against those Americans who oppose their war policies.
Sparling's claims might be more convincing if the media hadn't interviewed the same veteran who was first introduced in stories where he was working with military "public affairs" professionals, then as a victim of a death threat in a Christmas card, then as a victim of an anti-war liberal in an airport, then as a favorite of the right-wing crazies who appear with Ollie North at pro-war rallies.
Note - This story benefitted from Digy's posts on the subject. In the blog post Spitting Image, Digby wrote,
So the dirty, long haired hippies spit on wounded veterans yesterday. Isn't it just like them...Note - "DFH" used by Digby is short for "Dirty Fucking Hippies," which has become blogger shorthand for the tactic of marginalizing Americans who disagree with conservatives by shaming them as outcasts, "protesters," "fringes," or other terms intended to trigger feelings of "not part of the group" psychological humiliation.
... And it turns out that poor PFC Sparling has been treated terribly by these DFH's [* see below] time and time again.
Note - The Washington Post also quoted Sparling in their story about the weekend march, but removed the reference. Was it removed after bloggers started writing about Sparling? Digby mentioned this, and here is the original.
Note - The NY Times reporter who quoted Sparling is the same reporter who wrote a 2002 Village Voice story on military psy-ops.
January 30, 2007
In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries.Recently we heard about the purge of US Attorneys, replaced by political hacks. Now every agency of the government has to have a political officer from The Party oversee its activities.
This is the Stalinist Soviet model. What is Bush planning?
Watch your backs.
January 29, 2007
The War To End The War. Hear How Iraq War Vets And The Online Community Are Fighting Together.
Join us as we welcome Iraq War Veterans Jon Soltz, founder of VoteVets.org and Jonathan Powers, founder of War Kids Relief.
Over at The Reaction: This is what a racist looks like ... read about "annoying people with their ear-splitting boom boxes."
I am coming to think that Neil Young's Living With War is one of the great albums. I've been listening to it over and over today.
I think there's a new mix of it up for listening, with videos and a lot of other stuff at LIVING WITH WAR TODAY.
Here is his MySpace page with more streaming.
While you're at it, take a look (and listen) at Songs of the Times.
No More Lies!
Never say "pilotless drone." Ever. There can be consequences. This guy might call you up and leave a message on your voicemail.
He needs to start a blog.
January 27, 2007
Many people only read the headlines and the first paragraph or two...
The Moonie paper: It's important to 'keep hate alive' - The Washington Times,
Destroying a president is not much of a strategy to win a war, but it's all the Democrats have.And examples of these Democrats "keeping hate alive?"
The churls of the left don't seem to care whether their country wins the war, the important thing is to "keep hate alive." If hate worked in '06, maybe it will work again in '08, when the stakes will be considerably higher.
Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican, asks whether "the clock has already run out." The very point of her question is the smug assertion that of course it has. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who has all but given up his ambition to be John McCain when he grows up, says the obvious: "We have anarchy in Iraq. It's getting worse." You can hear the glee in his voice. John Warner of Virginia, eager to demonstrate that he's no son of the hard, determined men who wrote the book on standing firm against all odds as a fabled army of northern Virginia, rushes to join partisans across the aisle to forge a resolution of regret, retreat and ruin. "Nonbinding," of course. Senators never bind themselves to anything but their egos and personal interests (which is why we haven't elected a senator as president in nearly half a century).
... The fiercest critics of the commander in chief (the one the critics despise) and his troops (the ones the critics support) concede they don't have a clue about what the president should do in Iraq. "I can't tell you what the path to success is," says Norm Coleman, a Republican of Minnesota.
This is very interesting: TomPaine.com - Manipulating The Oil Reserve,
... It turns out there is good reason to believe that record oil prices may be due to our own strategic oil reserve, which the Bush administration may have been manipulating to drive up prices for the benefit of its clients. This is something Congress must investigate, and here is some preliminary evidence.Some time ago I wrote about Koch Supply and Trading getting the contract to supply oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
... The last three years have seen rapidly rising oil prices, and a tight oil market has meant that even small increases in demand have had large price impacts. During this period the Bush administration purposely expanded inventories of the strategic oil reserve, which rose from 600 million barrels in May 2003 to 700 million barrels in August 2005. The administration therefore increased demand by 125,000 barrels per day, and oil prices rose from 30 dollars per barrel to 70 dollars.
This company isn't JUST a "major GOP Donor." David H Koch is one of the prime funders of the whole right-wing movement. ... Koch played a role in founding the Cato Institute, which pumps out anti-government Libertarian propaganda. The Koch family had given Cato $21 million as of 1999. He was also involved in founding Citizens for a Sound Economy, another anti-government propaganda outlet. Contributions, again as of 1999, totaled $10 million. Koch also is a major funder of the Reason Foundation, yet another outlet for right-wing anti-government propaganda.One more thing the Congress needs to look into.
... This isn't just a quid pro quo. This government money will be pumped straight back into the Republican machine.
January 26, 2007
There is a big March On Washington tomorrow. (And other cities.)
Atrios explains one reason why it's time to take to the streets. The guests on Sunday's news shows this week:
So, let's take these one by one.
Joe Biden - supported the war
Richard Lugar - supported the war
Duncan Hunter - supported the war
Kevin Bacon - unsure of his opinion on war.
Jim Webb - opposed war, though not in Senate at time.
Mitch McConnell - supported the war
Arlen Specter - supported the war
Mike Huckabee - supported the war
Chuck Schumer - supported the war
David Vitter - supported the war
Gerson - former Bush speechwriter, supported the war
Kenneth Pollack - supported the war
Chris Dodd - supported the war
Jon Kyl - suppported the war
Michael Steele - supported the war
Donna Brazile - unsure if she took stand on Iraq war, but is on board of wingnutty Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
Sam Brownback - supported the war
Joe Lieberman - loves the war
Ellen Miller - N/A
That typical example might make you angry enough to TAKE TO THE STREETS.
For the last decade and a half, the Republican party has pursued an intentional strategy of insulating its base from reality. The goal has been to create a permanent block of loyal Republican voters who will dutifully internalize whatever the party's leaders tell them.Go read.
To accomplish this, the Republican political machine has engaged in a relentless and systematic assault on all of the institutions in our society that have traditionally served as arbiters of truth. They have attacked the press, the judiciary, academia, and even science itself. And they've been remarkably successful; we've now reached a point where much of the Republican base simply refuses to believe anything that doesn't come from a trusted partisan outlet.
Any unpleasant news reports can be dismissed as the product of liberal media bias. Any inconvenient studies can be explained away as the work of godless academic elitists. ...
... This strategy has an inherent vulnerability, though. Call it the Pied Piper problem. If you train a bunch of people to follow the Leader reflexively, they're likely to follow him right out of town (or right off a cliff).
January 25, 2007
I want to get out a thought I have been working on.
For a long time America's politicians have needed to posture and pretend and play a game of saying things that every informed person understands are not true, but are mouthed in order to to "position" themselves aligned with their idea of the thinking of the broad uninformed masses.
The conservatives built up a power structure by building (and funding) advocacy organizations like Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute - buying a movement - and progressives and their funders had not done that. So the conservatives have had this persuasion machine in place and progressives have not. The conservatives were able to use their machine to build up the "conventional wisdom" along the lines of their own strategic narrative. And so for a long time the public was, probably correctly, perceived to have been largely persuaded by conservative rhetoric, and the politicians had to speak to that.
So maybe for a politician it was a correct perception that you have to move right and "triangulate" and spout right-wing crap to get elected. You get this enormous demand built up by the right's unanswered propaganda, and at the same time you get this enormous conservative-engineered institutional pressure built up to vote a certain way on legislation. What else were politicians supposed to do?
Meanwhile progressives were not working to persuade the public, so there has until recently been little popular demand or respect for progressive policies and candidates. Sure, we want leaders to do the right thing, but we haven't been building up the mechanisms or creating the public demand that makes leaders do the right thing -- or that protect them, "watch their backs" and give them cover to do the right thing.
I think the blogs are starting to make a tremendous difference in our politics. They are holding politicians and the media accountable, and I think we're all starting to see the effects. They can't seem to get away with ANYTHING anymore because of these darn bloggers, and a lot of them don't like that one bit. But progressive politicians are learning that now there finally is someone out there - the blogs - working to persuade the public, and watching their backs, and applying pressure, and rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior. A power structure for progressive is being built.
So I think that one of these effects from the blogs is that doing the RIGHT thing rather than ridiculous posturing and perception games is starting to become the way to win elections. Or maybe I should say that the posturing and perception game to win elections and doing the right thing are converging - into the same thing.
Click on this link. It's unbelievable.
Lara Logan of CBS News in Iraq has apparently had to send out an email begging people to ask CBS's national news people to run her team's reporting. The CBS top management has been so intimidated by the right-wing thugs that they're suppressing stories.
Think about it. The CBS news team is risking their lives to get the news, but because of a bunch of screaming stay-at-home rightwing ideologues, their story is not being broadcast.
The reporters are now using the internet to get the word out. CBS itself has only a censorship function. It's a travesty.
I just realized what's so strange about this story. Logan's email included a video clip of the coverage she wanted CBS to broadcast. In other words, she was able to broadcast the story herself, without CBS's help. The internet has supplanted the major media even for the major media's content-producers. This is a disgrace, all right, but it also tells you in no uncertain terms that media world we remember is dead as a doornail. Something big has got to change.
Co-written with James Boyce
They destroy our leaders.
In our Dec. 11 post How Long Will The Right Let Us Love Obama, we discussed how the right consciously and over time systematically destroys Democratic and Progressive leaders.
We were prompted to write the post because of a national poll of favorability of leading politicians had just been released and Senator Barack Obama, the brightest new star in politics, was the highest ranked Democratic politician in the poll.
As we studied the poll, we asked why our other great leaders were seen unfavorably by so many? We wrote,
"With complete respect to Senator Obama, where are the long-time Democratic leaders who have dedicated their lives to the service of our country? Where are the other possible Presidential contenders? What about Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry? Where are Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid? Are they not leaders that deserve at the very least to have decent favorability ratings?We went on to make the claim that we believe our impressions of our leaders have been negatively impacted by the right wing's $mear machine."
... Our point here is not whether you will vote for them, or volunteer for their campaign, or give them money, but do you, the American voting public, have a favorable impression of these leaders?
"This is what the machine does to Democratic and Progressive leaders. It smears, and attacks and destroys them. It leaves millions of Americans with an uneasy feeling about John Kerry or Hillary Clinton, a bad taste in the mouth, "I don't know. I just don't like him." It's emotional. It's not rational. But it is very, very real.Of course, we could have added that the mainstream media in many instances actually assists the machine in the smearing under the "two sides of the story" journalism 101 mantra. But we didn't have to - in fact, Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post did it for us when he called us out and mocked us, writing,
And it's not just these our most recent leaders. As we wrote last week, President Jimmy Carter left office virtually in disgrace. What about Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis? Are they perceived as what they really are - respected leaders who are both true American success stories? Hardly. They are perceived in the "conventional wisdom" as jokes and afterthoughts.
Those powerful negative stereotypes were carefully created by the use of brilliant marketing, coordinated messaging, virtually unlimited budgets and a complete lack of morals."
"HuffPosters Dave Johnson and James Boyce devise a novel explanation for Obama's popularity: ... Hardly ... Boy, that must be one powerful machine."Sadly, exactly as we predicted, the rise of Senator Obama and the media attention paid to him has led directly to a rise in attacks. As the most dynamic young politician of either party to burst on the national scene since John Kennedy captured the attention of the country over forty-five years, Senator Obama is a real threat to the right. Of course, as is usually the case, the attacks were not on his record or his career - in fact their pettiness and immaturity speak for themselves.
On December 18, this appeared from a widely-read right-wing blogger,
... His full name--as by now you have probably heard--is Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. Hussein is a Muslim name, which comes from the name of Ali's son--Hussein Ibn Ali. And Obama is named after his late Kenyan father, the late Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., apparently a Muslim.About the same time, similar smears started circulating in the stealth, word-of-mouth channels. Reminiscent of the whisper-campaign that destroyed John McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primaries, e-mails containing the following are circulating widely:
And while Obama may not identify as a Muslim, that's not how the Arab and Muslim Streets see it. In Arab culture and under Islamic law, if your father is a Muslim, so are you. And once a Muslim, always a Muslim. You cannot go back. In Islamic eyes, Obama is certainly a Muslim. He may think he's a Christian, but they do not.
... So, even if he identifies strongly as a Christian, and even if he despised the behavior of his father (as Obama said on Oprah); is a man who Muslims think is a Muslim, who feels some sort of psychological need to prove himself to his absent Muslim father, and who is now moving in the direction of his father's heritage, a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?
Essential facts ALL should know concerning Barack ObamaNaturally this vile story isn't just spreading by e-mail. In fact, as of this writing, a Google search for 'Obama' and 'Muslim' yields 873,000 results. Of course many or irrelevant or are even refuting the smear. But scanning the first several pages of results shows websites that are almost all spreading this smear, and this indicates that a good percentage of those results probably reflect this smear. Along these lines, a search on 'Obama', 'stealth' and 'Muslim' yields over 50,000 results. And searching 'Obama', 'ideologically' and 'muslim' yields over 40,000. One result would be too many for decency.
Probable U. S. presidential candidate, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black Muslim from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white atheist from Wichita, Kansas. Obama's parents met at the University of Hawaii.
When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced. His father returned to Kenya. His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a radical Muslim from Indonesia. When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocated to Indonesia. Obama attended a Muslim school in Jakarta. He also spent two years in a Catholic school.
Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He is quick to point out that, "He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school."
Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that Obama's introduction to Islam came via his father, and that this influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence over his son's education. Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Osama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta. Wahabism is the radical teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world.
Since it is politically expedient to be a Christian when seeking major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background.
Let us all remain alert concerning Obama's expected presidential candidacy.
A Reverend Moon outlet, Insight Magazine, carried this on Jan. 16,
Are the American people ready for an elected president who was educated in a Madrassa as a young boy and has not been forthcoming about his Muslim heritage?(Note CNN's refutation of this false story.)
... "Obama's education began a life-long relationship with Islam as a faith and Muslims as a community," the source said. "This has been a relationship that contains numerous question marks."
The Moonies added a nice propaganda touch, claiming the info came from Hillary Clinton's campaign - which it did not - attempting to $mear two birds with one lying article.
Fox News has, of course, picked up on this. Media Matters has a video clip of Fox News' John Gibson repeating the Moonie accusations against both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton.
These attacks serve to create public doubt about the Senator Obama at a time when the public is just beginning to learn about him, by contributing to the coordinated right-wing campaign that insinuates Obama is somehow connected to terrorists.
The tactic of attributing the $mear to the Clinton campaign is an innovative new twist. It deflects attention from the Republican $mear machine - just as the public is becoming increasingly aware that this is a standard Republican tactic.
The attacks also damage the Clinton campaign by implying that Clinton would engage in the kind of smear campaign just at a time when the public is becoming increasingly repulsed by this tactic - because of it widespread use by Republicans.
For those who are thinking, "well, surely, no one will fall for this." We offer two points of evidence to the contrary - all of which we feel are true because on the whole, Americans do not pay as close attention to the political process as readers of this post.
- 1. Over 40% of all Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001.
2. There still is the lingering belief that John Kerry exaggerated, or just plain lied, about his military record in Vietnam.
So if you've ever wondered why the right does this, now you know. Because it works. If you find yourself a year from now thinking, "I just don't like Obama" you know it worked again. To everyone's detriment.
January 24, 2007
Scenario: no candidate emerges from the primaries with enough delegates to win the Democratic Party nomination for President on the first ballot at the convention. Eventually Senator James Webb is chosen to be the nominee.
In case you missed it last night:
From a four-year-old, speaking for all of us:
January 23, 2007
Bush wants to cut Social Security taxes - that is what is meant where he talked about a new tax deduction for health insurance that would come from "payroll taxes." That means from Social Security taxes.
Social Security is currently solvent, and projected to remain solvent. But not if Bush gets his way with this tax cut. Then it really WOULD be in trouble.
It's a trick. It is yet another scheme to get rid of Social Security.
Update - American Prospect picks up on this
But, there is a flip side to this tax break. If workers pay less money into Social Security, they would also get less back. To take an extreme case, imagine a worker whose pay averages $20,000 a year. Currently, this would salary would get this worker $11,000 if she started collecting benefits at the normal retirement age. Under President Bush’s proposal, the worker would only be credited with $5,000 a year towards her Social Security benefits, getting her $4,500 a year when she retires. This is a big difference.Also Atrios.
Co-written with James Boyce
It's a day of celebration and sadness for those of us who follow the global warming issue. On one hand, Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth" received a well-deserved Oscar nomination. Congratulations to all involved but especially Laurie David and Lawrence Bender for their wonderful work in bring the Vice-President's presentation to the big screeen.
However, tragically, today the summary and highlights of the definitive report on global warming was leaked. This 1,600 page report will showcase once and for all, that global warming is real, we are causing it and "the future is dire."
So how is it, one might ask, that we didn't take global warming seriously earlier? Especially when we have an an advocate like Al Gore on the national stage.
It's because the right wing ozoned Al Gore. They mocked him for his concern. The called him "Ozone Man." Like pathetic schoolyard bullies, they picked fun at him, made him uncool.
Who led the charge?
In 1992, the first President Bush:
"This guy is so far out in the environmental extreme we'll be up to our necks in owls and outta work for every American."
In 2000, the second President Bush said of Al Gore
He "likes electric cars. He just doesn't like making electricity."
So when President Bush stands up and talks about global warming, think of Al Gore. He stood up fifteen, twenty years ago, and got mocked for his courage and vision.
Big-time media guy blogs and gets every fact wrong. Commenters point it out. Big-time media guy then writes a post saying, "the left is as full of unthinking Ditto-heads as Limbaugh-land."
Please, please, please go read the comments!!! Please!
Seriously, take some time off. Maybe take a refresher at a local community college. Or maybe look into one of those air conditioner repair courses. It's supposed to be a lucrative field.and
Wow-comparing fact-based commenters to unthinking dittoheads form Limbaugh-land. That's going to win you some friends.
What is this assumption that people are from "the left" when they point out errors?
January 22, 2007
Through a reader, TPM asks,
So, here's my question to you: can you think of one thing between last year's SOTU and this year's SOTU that Bush can claim as an accomplishment?I swear, the very next headline I saw was: U.S. image around world sharply worsens: BBC poll
Co-written with James Boyce
A little over 48 hours ago, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton made history when she announced that she had formed an exploratory committee for 2008. She is the first woman to have a legitimate chance to become President of the United States. In fact, she is clearly the front runner, not a long shot.
"I'm in. And I'm in to win." She declared. It was a historic moment.
It is an extraordinary feat by an extraordinary woman. Of course, to win The White House, Senator Clinton will face many challenges and hurdles. But the first may end up being perhaps the most significant. For Senator Clinton and her advisers must find a strategy that makes every voter look at her clearly. Senator Clinton and her advisors must shatter the public's habit of viewing her and her record through the prism of right wing distortions and smears.
This is not a conspiracy theory nor is it an endorsement of Senator Clinton.
But this simply is a fact of modern politics in America. For the past three decades, the right wing has employed a powerful strategy of "$ell and $mear." They insist on being the gatekeepers to public opinion and have developed a powerful machine that tells us who to like - and who to hate.
They $ell their heroes, turning a B-movie actor into the Marlboro Man and President.
They $mear Democratic and Progressive heroes, reducing American success stories such as George McGovern, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis into humiliated historical footnotes. They destroy our leaders. They destroy those that might become our leaders. There is no Democratic or Progressive leader of any note of the last twenty years that has not been attacked.
Senator Clinton is unique in this discussion because unlike John Kerry, who had to be turned from war hero into fraud in sixty days, she has been both a past and historical target of the machine on the right and will be its primary target in the month's going forward. Of course, we should expect Senator Obama to face more than his fair share of slurs and attacks as well. As well as any other leader who dares challenge the right-wing $mear machine.
Even now, many Democrats state they "just don't like Hillary." Much like they "just don't like John Kerry." She has "baggage." Or there is something about her "that just bothers me." This is the result of the campaign against her. Just as these people like Coca-Cola or Nike products but can't tell you why, they don't like Hillary. Without conscious reason or explanation.
This is Senator Clinton's primary challenge. Because since this strategy has been deployed, no one, not one single politician has been in the eye of the machine longer than Senator Clinton. For almost fifteen years, Americans have been bombarded with smears and negative commentary about her. Virtually every aspect of her life, personal and political, from her hairstyle to private decisions she made within her marriage, has been criticized.
This will be a longer discussion. This effort will be part of our dialogue for at least the next year. But let's start with two simple questions.
HILLARY CLINTON IS JUST TOO POLARIZING - RIGHT? WRONG.
This might seem jarring, moronic or just plain wrong, but the facts are clear. Hillary Clinton is called polarizing as a matter of course, but there really is no basis for the claim.
First, you must realize that any leader of one of the two major parties will have split public opinion because we live in a two party system. By definition any leader will be polarizing. So just as John Kerry, Al Gore and Bill Clinton, recent Democratic nominees for President, have high negatives from the other side of the aisle, so too will whomever is the Democratic nominee in 2008.
Of course, George Bush, Mitt Romney, and John McCain will also all have high negatives from the Democratic side. That's part of the process.
Hillary Clinton is no more polarizing than George Bush - a quick Google search shows that just as many references of George Bush as "too polarizing" as there are for Hillary.
So why do we think Hillary is polarizing? Because we are constantly told so. Again, and again.
They called her ... well, everything a person can be called. They accused her of ... well, every crime a person can be accused of, up to and including murder. A Google search of the words "Hillary" and "murder" yields 1,500,000 results - and be sure to take a look at some of them.
Take a moment and pause. A respected leader of our country is accused of murder by the right, time and time again, and it no longer shocks us. Just as having John Kerry, an authentic American war hero who earned three Purple Hearts, just as having him portrayed as a fraud no longer shocks us. This is what this machine has done to our leaders, and to our country.
"HILLARY CAN WIN THE NOMINATION BUT NOT THE GENERAL ELECTION."
This one is another myth made in right wing heaven, but they will repeat it, and smile when Democrats repeat it over the next few months.
First of all, let's judge Mrs. Clinton by her performance as an elected official. She won her Senate easily in 2000 and in 2006 coasted to an absolutely dominating re-election, winning almost every single county in New York State.
Then yesterday, the Washington Post released this poll.
In this poll, Senator Clinton gets 41% of Democrats support. Senator Obama is second at 17%. Some would say this isn't a race yet.
Second, let's look at a state by state map of the blue states that John Kerry won. Is there one that Senator Clinton can not win? Of course not.
Are there other states where she can win that John Kerry didn't and therefore be the President? Absolutely. There are at least five potentially more, depending on her Vice President selection.
Again the Washington Post poll.
In it, Senator Clinton beats the Republican front runners.
The only reason we think Hillary is less electable than the others is that we are conditioned to think that the right's smear machine is unstoppable. (And of course plenty of us will do almost anything just to get them to stop screeching.)
IT WON'T JUST BE SENATOR CLINTON WHO WILL BE SMEARED.
A few weeks ago, we asked "How Long Will The Right Let Us Love Obama?" We, sadly, have started to see the answer. (More on this later.)
The $mear machine will take aim at any Democrat who starts to gain traction. Look back over the years - every single Democratic Presidential candidate has faced the machine, and is now perceived negatively by the public. Again: they destroy our leaders.
Remember that in the 2004 election primaries people supported John Kerry because he was a war hero and therefore "electable?" Remember how the term "swiftboating" then entered the lexicon? John Edwards? Destroying our country with frivolous lawsuits. Bill Richardson? There are plenty of openings - or they'll just make something up. And so on.
It's not that they think each and every one of these Democrats are potential Presidents.
It's just that they want to destroy each and every Democrat. And they're going to start with a remarkable woman who just might be the next President of the United States.
It's up to each and every one of us to stop it.
And it's up to each and everyone of us to look at Senator Clinton without the right telling us what we're looking at.
Just the headline: Fragile Hopes for Bipartisan Rescue of Social Security - New York Times
"Rescue?" The Social Security trust fund is solvent - no problems at all. But the NY Times story talks about "the long-term fiscal problems in Social Security."
This framing of "going broke" and needing "rescue" comes from a long-term strategy to get rid of Social Security by portraying it as a "ponzi scheme," "going broke," "needing to be fixed," etc. This strategy was laid out in a 1983 Cato Institute document. The document even describes the strategy as "Leninist."
Do not be fooled. There is nothing wrong with Social Security, it is not "going broke," there is no need to "fix" it. It is solvent, and will continue to provide retirement, disability and other benefits to Americans without changes.
January 20, 2007
HillaryClinton.com - Welcome
People say Hillary Clinton has "baggage" and is "divisive." Actually she has been investigated more thoroughly than almost anyone in the country's history and they found nothing at all. It isn't Hillary who is divisive, it's the people making all the accusations.
Remember that people voted for Kerry in the primaries because he was a war hero and therefore "electable." And remember what everyone thought about Kerry by the time of the election - and still. The term "swiftboating" entered the lexicon. The right's $mear machine destroys our leaders and makes us hate them - and to some extend to hate ourselves as well.
I don't support or oppose Hillary. I'm just talking about the perception game.
Finally, if [the liberal hawks] had regarded reality as an important basis for policy, wouldn’t they have realised that any enterprise run by people who prefer lies to truth is unlikely to succeed?
The dominant Bush people are pure political operatives focussed entirely on immediate political results. As O'Neill explained, this includes the policymakers: policymaking has been overwhelmed by electoral politics and Congressional manoeuvring. A lot of these operatives are not even ideologues, but just semi-criminal scam artists running their own games. They've been selected for their political skills, their willingness to be unethical, and their loyalty to the crime family.
The so-called liberal hawks weren't suckered -- they outsmarted themselves. They're mostly centrists, much friendlier to moderate Republicans than to labor, anti-war Democrats, or left-liberal Democrats. They're hawks pure and simple, and they're fully committed to the anti-populist model of democracy. For them policy-making and campaigning for office are completely separate -- during the elections you just tell the voters whatever seems likely to fly.
The liberal hawks were minor cynics, and they got bamboozled by the major cynics. They were cynical about the voters but serious about policy, but the Republicans were cynical about everything. When the operatives took over the Iraq War, it was reduced to photo-ops, soundbites, and graft.
The liberal hawks and the intelligent conservatives are starting to figure out what happened, but screw them. They had their time at bat, and they struck out looking.
An edited version of a comment I made at Crooked Timber.
January 19, 2007
Two years ago, Adam Werbach, former President of the Sierra Club, said in a speech that foundations need to stop funding environmental organizations (and issue organizations and programs generally) because that money is wasted, and should instead be used effectively to start talking to the public about the benefits of progressive values and policies. He said we need to:
"... Dismantle environmental programs in foundations: Easy money reinforces bad behavior. If our end goal is to change the way Americans think, we need to fund strategic initiatives that move the public's values. It's time for the rest of the philanthropic world to start funding long-term strategic initiatives that are measured by their effectiveness at changing the public's values, not by protecting a particular thing.So two years later, how are we doing? Are foundations and other funders supporting issues and programs, or efforts to reach the general public promoting the benefits of progressive values and policies? Are we taking over the Democratic Party?
... Take over the Democratic Party: We have been deluding ourselves into believing that "everyone" supports the environment. The Republican Party -- as an institution -- has declared war on us. The Democratic Party claims to be our ally, yet fails us. It's time for us to drop our veil of bi-partisanship and fight to fix the deeply broken Democratic Party."
I think no one the first, yes on the second.
January 18, 2007
The right is circulating another lie - don't fall for it.
The right-wingers are claiming that the Senate lobbyist reform bill would force bloggers to register as lobbyists. That is just a lie.
What the bill would really do is require those who are paid to lobby to register as lobbyists and disclose what they are up to. And they have to be paid more than $25,000 before they even have to do that. That the right-wing bloggers are so worried about this does say something, doesn't it?
There's also a comment on this at AmericaBlog.
They're making out too well from the corruption - it is what funds the Republican Party. So new Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is blocking attempts to reform ethics and lobbying.
Senate Republicans scuttled broad legislation last night to curtail lobbyists' influence and tighten congressional ethics rules, refusing to let the bill pass without a vote on an unrelated measure that would give President Bush virtual line-item-veto power.So here we are.
Everyone who thought the fight was over because the Democrats have a majority in the House and Senate now, raise your hands.
Update - From Sen. McConnell's office,
Republicans didn’t derail the ethics reform bill. They’re enthusiastic about voting for it. Republicans just want earmark reform, as well. (and Democrats have already accepted an earmark reform amendment in the ethics bill, so it’s not really unrelated)Update II - Evening - Senate passes ethics reform bill
After a spirited debate over the year's first order of business, the Senate reached a bipartisan agreement on ethics reform Thursday and approved a package designed to burnish its image in the wake of recent corruption scandals.
The Senate voted 96-2 for a measure that would prohibit lobbyists from paying for gifts for lawmakers and their staffs, including travel. It also would require full disclosure on which lawmakers have requested funding earmarks for specific projects in lawmakers' home states or districts.
January 17, 2007
Well this is interesting. I received a forwarded e-mail that is not from the right. It's interesting to see where public thinking about acceptable humor is going. Not long ago people would be afraid bad things might happen to them - like what happened to the Dixie Chicks - for forwarding this. Subject line Funny T-Shirts:
1) (On an infant's shirt): Already smarter than Bush.
2) 1/20/09: End of an Error
3) That's OK, I Wasn't Using My Civil Liberties Anyway
4) Let's Fix Democracy in This Country First
5) If You Want a Nation Ruled By Religion, Move to Iran
6) Bush. Like a Rock. Only Dumber.
7) You Can't Be Pro-War And Pro-Life At The Same Time
8) If You Can Read This, You're Not Our President
9) Of Course It Hurts: You're Getting Screwed by an Elephant
10) Hey, Bush Supporters: Embarrassed Yet?
11) George Bush: Creating the Terrorists Our Kids Will Have to Fight
12) Impeachment: It's Not Just for sex Anymore
14) America : One Nation, Under Surveillance
15) They Call Him "W" So He Can Spell It
16) Cheney/Satan '08
17) Jail to the Chief
18) No, Seriously, Why Did We Invade
19) Bush: God's Way of Proving Intelligent Design is Full Of Crap
20) Bad president! No Banana.
21) We Need a President Who's Fluent In At Least One Language
22) We're Making Enemies Faster Than We Can Kill Them
23) Is It Vietnam Yet?
24) Bush Doesn't Care About White People, Either
25) Where Are We Going? And Why Are We In This Handbasket?
26) You Elected Him. You Deserve Him.
27) When Bush Took Office, Gas Was $1.46
28) The Republican Party: Our Bridge to the 11th Century
29) 2004: Embarrassed 2005: Horrified 2006: Terrified
Bush believes. Do YOU believe?
Just don't look down.
Looking back at how things unfolded this was brilliant and just spot-on. No one was listening. And unfortunately he was right and they were all wrong.
I'm not even going to quote from it - just read the whole thing and tell me if Steve didn't exactly predict what is happening now! Sure, it was obvious that things could spin out of control, but Steve described what has happened step-by-step, almost four years ago.
By the way, here is where you can read your Steve nowadays.
Earth monitoring satellites about to be kaput, NASA kills "understanding" the earth from mission statement, Dubya cackles with glee
It has been a while since I've posted, but the item below just demanded that I draw attention to it. Apparently, Bush and the Republican Congress have allowed the nation's earth monitoring satellite infrastructure to degrade to an alarming degree, such that one critical tool used to forcast hurricanes and the El Nino phenomenon "could become inoperable at any time", and that without action, pretty much the entire system could vanish from the sky by the end of the next decade, according to a report issued by the National Research Council on Monday. Even if the recommendations of this report are followed, the number of active "missions" will fall from 29 to 17 by 2020.
Why would the folks governing our society be so irresponsible? Perhaps because the data produced are politically inconvenient... you'll recall that earlier this year, NASA eliminated the promise "to understand and protect our home planet" from its mission statement. Prominent NASA scientist and global warming expert James Hansen stated to the New York Times that ""They're [the Bush Administration] making it clear that they ... prefer that NASA work on something that's not causing them a problem."
Well, certainly, those pesky scientists aren't going to create any "problems" if they have no data to work with.
January 16, 2007
"Conservatives and their ideas are good, liberals and their ideas are bad."
You hear the message repeated a thousand different ways, over and over, every day. It is a strategy, an organized marketing campaign to create demand for conservatives, their policies and their candidates. Over time and unanswered, it sinks into the brain.
The fact is, marketing creates demand. So after decades of this, people start to demand conservative policies and candidates and their politicians just ride that wave. In some areas conservative candidates can just point and shout, "liberal, liberal" and win elections. We see the results all around us - trillions of OUR dollars flow to the top. Our resources are "privatized" into the hands of corporations. We work longer hours for lower pay, losing our health insurance and pensions and rights... Our environment is polluted and our resources extracted.
Repeat: this is a strategic marketing campaign to get people to accept being ruled by wealthy corporatists. Marketing creates demand. Repetition drives a point home.
Today's example just came in the morning e-mail. Read this and you'll see that it follows the same tired script: liberals and their ideas are bad, and conservatives and their ideas are good. Marketing creates demand, and this is marketing, promoting conservative values and ideas and candidates.
The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11
"Why do they hate us?" Some conservatives, following President Bush, believe that Muslim anti-Americanism stems from irrational hatred of our freedom and democracy. Others lay the blame on our foreign policy. Now comes bestselling conservative author Dinesh D'Souza to argue that both views, while they contain elements of truth, miss the larger reason. In The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, D'Souza makes the startling claim that the 9/11 attacks and other terrorist acts around the world can be directly traced to the ideas and attitudes perpetrated by America's cultural left.
"In faulting the cultural left, I am not making the absurd accusation that this group blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon," D'Souza explains. "I am saying that the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the non-profit sector, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world. The Muslims who carried out the 9/11 attacks were the product of this visceral rage - some of it based on legitimate concerns, some of it based on wrongful prejudice, but all of it fueled and encouraged by the cultural left."This is horrible, lying, smearing propaganda, designed to incite hatred against half of America. And it works. We see this stuff in one form or another every single day. Conservatives bathe in it, but the regular public also is showered with it. The worst thing is, it is largely unanswered. People in some parts of the country never hear an opposing viewpoint.
In The Enemy at Home, D'Souza uncovers the links between the spread of America's decadent pop culture, leftist ideas, and secular values and the rise of virulent Anti-Americanism throughout the world. He shows how liberals are responsible for fostering -- and exporting -- a culture that angers and repulses not just Muslim countries but also traditional and religious societies around the world. He also reveals how liberals' outspoken opposition to American foreign policy -- especially our conduct of the war on terror -- contributes to the growing hostility, encouraging people both at home and abroad to blame America for the problems of the world.
Though we are accustomed to thinking of the war on terror and the culture war as distinct and separate, D'Souza argues, they are really one and the same. Conservatives must recognize that the left is now allied with the Islamic radicals in a combined effort to defeat Bush's war on terror. A whole new strategy is therefore needed to fight both wars. It is only by curtailing the left's attacks on religion, family, and traditional values that we can persuade moderate Muslims and others around the world to cooperate with us and begin to shun the extremists in their own countries. In short, writes D'Souza, "to defeat the Islamic radicals abroad, we must defeat the enemy at home."
In Are Progressives Good? Then TELL PEOPLE! I wrote,
So it is time to change the game. It is time to start funding organizations that talk to the public about the benefits that progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates bring to them. $1000 given today toward building public appreciation of progressive values could have greater impact than $100,000 spent in support of a candidate in the days before an election.And I closed that piece by writing,
Marketing creates demand. Let’s create a demand for progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates.Marketing and repetition work, so Click here to help
The Commonweal Institute wants to tell people that progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates are good for them. (Commonweal means "the public good" or "the common good.")
As I wrote the other day, I am an unpaid Commonweal Institute Fellow. Let's change that. Click here to help.
January 15, 2007
A man burned down his neighbor's house. Confronted by an angry crowd, he lectured them, "Well, then, what is your plan for this house not being burned down?"
January 14, 2007
Variations of the following are being posted on boards and forums, including Craigslist and circulated using e-mails. Google shows 873,000 results for 'Obama' and 'Muslim'. Not all of these are repetitions of the smear, of course, and many or irrelevant or are refuting the smear. But the first five pages of results are almost entirely spreading this smear, indicating that a good percentage of those results might reflect this smear. 'Obama', 'stealth' and 'Muslim' yields over 50,000 results. 'Obama', 'ideologically' and 'muslim' yields over 40,000.
THIS is how information spreads "under the radar." Boards, forums, e-mails all trigger word-of-mouth. (I wonder how many church newsletters are repeating the original letter.) This is how "conventional wisdom" spreads. This is how Republicans win elections.
Essential facts ALL should know concerning Barack Obama
Probable U. S. presidential candidate, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black Muslim from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white atheist from Wichita, Kansas. Obama's parents met at the University of Hawaii.
When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced. His father returned to Kenya. His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a radical Muslim from Indonesia. When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocated to Indonesia. Obama attended a Muslim school in Jakarta. He also spent two years in a Catholic school.
Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He is quick to point out that, “He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school.”
Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that Obama's introduction to Islam came via his father, and that this influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence over his son's education. Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Osama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta. Wahabism is the radical teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world.
Since it is politically expedient to be a Christian when seeking major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background.
Let us all remain alert concerning Obama’s expected presidential candidacy.
January 13, 2007
Here is today's CD rate schedule from E-Trade. Shorter terms are paying higher interest rates. Raise your hand if you know what this means.
6 Month 5.35%
1 Year 5.05%
15 Month 5.00%
1.5 Year 5.00%
2 Year 4.80%
2.5 Year 4.80%
3 Year 4.80%
4 Year 4.80%
5 Year 4.80%
Ever see an SUV parked in a space marked "Compact?" Ever come back to your car and some ... person ... has parked too close and you can't get into your car from the drivers side?
Visit youparklikeanasshole.com and send them a picture or download a notice.
January 12, 2007
One method the global warming-deniers are using is to spread the story that scientists in the 1970's were predicting an ice age. Of course the logic of this is some scientists were wrong once therefore you shouldn't believe scientists when they say global warming is real. But it works, allowing people to dismiss ... an inconvenient truth.
So with that in mind, did scientists in the 1970s predict an ice age? No.
Displaying typical Republican respect for nature and the environment, the incoming Governor of Idaho is calling for the killing of most of the wolves in his state. He wants to kill enough to get them back on the endangered species list - but only because that is the limit where the law makes him stop.
According to Idaho gov calls for wolf kill,
Idaho's governor said Thursday he will support public hunts to kill all but 100 of the state's gray wolves after the federal government strips them of protection under the Endangered Species Act.His excuse? He says they kill elk, which harms hunting. And, of course, that's a lie: Scientists: Wolves not decimating elk herds
... The 100 surviving wolves would be the minimum before the animals could again be considered endangered.
Governor "Butch" Otter is another typical Republican - elected "after a drunken driving conviction and his divorce from the daughter of one of the state's richest men."
The right has organizations and money that they use to reach the public and tell them over and over that conservatives and their ideas are good, and liberals and their ideas are bad. THEY CREATE DEMAND for their ideas and candidates. So many of their candidates can win by pointing and shout "liberal, liberal."
With this election we have had a small victory, that came out of an unfunded uprising of netroots progressives. Imagine where we would be today if there were funded "progressive infrastructure" organizations reaching the public and pushing back at the right's constant messaging. How long can we continue to find the energy to keep the fight going without that?
Imagine where we could be in '08, '10 and '12 if we can find funding to start employing people, training people, paying bloggers, paying people to go on TV and write op-eds and books, and reaching the public to tell them that liberals and their ideas are good and conservatives and their ideas are bad for people.
Imagine if OUR candidates could win just by pointing at a wingnut and saying, "conservative, conservative."
But it all takes money, applied the right way. Cracking the funding problem is the biggest need of the progressive movement. The lack of funding is our biggest weakness. Sure we won an election. But can we sustain it without a funded infrastructure of supporting organizations - like the Right has?
Bush is still president, and still has the power to fire prosecutors who go after Republican corruption.
Carole Lam, the San Diego U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the corrupt former lawmaker, is being quietly pushed out by the Bush administration.
Why did the new chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee "back away from the committee's Katrina probe?" Until now the White House has refused to hand over documents relating to their Katrina performance and contracts. This new Senate committee chair has refused to subpoena documents related to Katrina - and the contracting scandals - and is refusing to hold hearings on what happened and how to prevent it from happening again.
I call on Senate Majority Reid to remove this Senator from his chairmanship of this important committee.
Fortunately the House is likely to hold hearings on Katrina.
January 11, 2007
Surge is a focus-group word, designed to sell an escalation of the war. The strategy is to deflect the incoming Democrats' argument for winding down the war by offering the opposite. And look what we are all discussing. This places "stay the course" as the reasonable middle ground.
It is ALWAYS about appearances and political strategies not reality or the good of the country with this crowd.
EVERYone said from the start that 250-500,000 troops would be needed to occupy Iraq. Bush didn't do this because sending that many troops would undermine political support for the Republican Party. With enough troops there could have been a peaceful Iraq following our illegal invasion. The Iraqi people have paid the real price for this - not us. Yes, we have lost over 3,000 troops dead and how many injured and how many "contractors" and how much money? But the Iraqi people have suffered the loss of hundreds of thousands and of the possibility of going on with their lives in peace - and are instead entering into a horrible civil war because of Bush's choices.
Bush has not asked for tax increases to pay for the war, either. Because it would undermine political support for the party. Instead he offered candy - tax cuts.
Party over country.
Bush and his surrogates say we are fighting "Islamofascism" and it is the worst threat America has ever faced - and then says "go shopping." Fight the worst threat the nation has ever faced by going shopping? Because any kind of sacrifice would undermine support for the Republican Party. Meanwhile fear changes the way people think, and leads much of the population to more easily accept the authoritarian agenda of the right.
Party over country.
In the face of the worst threat the nation has ever faced, and declining readiness of our military - "stretched too thin" - Bush does not ask for a draft to protect the country. Because that would be politically unpopular and undermine support for the Republican Party.
No draft to protect the country. No taxes to pay for the war. No lowering of oil use to cut finding to terrorists states. Nothing that might undermine support for the Republican Party.
Party over country at every turn.
I went to Macworld Expo yesterday. Here are my notes.
Boring show, many companies not there. Many booths selling luggage. Lots of empty space. Average attendee age 50+. Ecosystem is dying. The second hall didn't have paying companies at all, was dedicated to lots of chairs while someone showed how to edit photos...
the iPhone looks great - extremely expensive, is it true only Cingular will have it? Ugh. Isn't that what they call an attractive nuisance -- luring people into something that can harm them?
The Mac ecosystem did NOT look healthy. Few 3rd-party products at all. Apple itself is clearly refocusing on consumer goods. They even took "computer" out of the name. Must have been ten booths offering iPod skins.
Several companies showing products not related to Mac or iPod - like cameras. Several booths of printers, some also sell cameras.
Apple understands that people are locked into their software, especially if they have paid their thousands and thousands for the Adobe monopoly and the upgrade payment scheme. So instead of boosting market share they stick it to the users who are stuck. I saw an ad in the paper - PC desktops with everything including 19 inch LCD monitors were $700, a Mac desktop was $2500. Etc...
Update - One more thing. The Apple TV device -- I still can't figure out what it does. It does NOT have a TV tuner. It does not do what a Tivo does. It doesn't do what Windows Media Center does. It has a hard drive and wireless. An Apple marketing guy was explaining it to me and he couldn't come up with a coherent explanation. He kept talking about how it lets me show things that I have to PAY FOR from iTunes, on my big TV. It appears to be a scheme to get me into one more subscription service that drains my checking account every month. I think.
I turned off the TypeKey requirement for comments for a couple of days, because I received some complaints that TypeKey was having some problems.
So now the site is besieged by comment spam. I'm going to require authentication now. You don't HAVE to use TypeKey but if it is your first time here and you aren't sing TypeKey comments will be held until I approve you as a commenter. Sorry.
January 10, 2007
MySpace, owned by Fox News, refused to allow Common Cause to run an ad opposing media consolidation.
Update - I originally posted the ad with a link so others could get the ad and post it. Then I visited the Common Cause blog and learned that they are paying some sites to run the ad. Which made me realize they were making fools of all of us who ran it for free - a trick to get free PR from dedicated progressives, while paying the big sites. So I took it out of this post.
MySpace shouldn't have refused the ad and supposed progressive organizations should stop exploiting dedicated progressives.
Americans struggle to afford housing,
An annual income of about $85,000 is needed to afford median-priced homes; salaries have not seen modest gains, according to a study.
U.S. home prices may have dipped over the past year, but many American workers would still struggle to afford a median-priced home in major cities, a new study said Wednesday.
"American workers are really not gaining ground and they're so far behind in the first place," said Barbara Lipman, research director for the nonprofit Center for Housing Policy, which conducted the study.
While the median home price in the 202 largest metropolitan areas declined 2 percent from a year ago to $248,000 in the third quarter of 2006, mortgage rates rose enough over the year that homes actually became less affordable as pay did not keep pace.And other news:
January 9, 2007
Several bloggers have recently called it quits or are in the process of doing so. Read about it at skippy the bush kangaroo: ted barlow disease strikes again - a skippy musing,
let's face it, blogging is only slightly more productive than masturbation, and a whole lot less fun. unless you are one of the lucky more talented ones, like kevin drum, who gets paid for blogging, or lucky smart ones, like atrios or kos who have big enough audiences to command mucho dinero for their blogads, chances are you won't get paid enough for blogging to buy a 15 inch monitor.I left a comment:
so that means one of two things, if you're a blogger. you are either really stupid and like to waste your time writing inconsequential things probably nobody ever reads, or you are incredibly dedicated to your political ideals and believe you are making a difference, as well as being really stupid and like to waste your time writing inconsequential things probably nobody ever reads.
The very night of the election I felt like that equation of urgency-to-blog vs necessity-to-make-a-living had changed. Our Nation Emergency was pushed back -- maybe by only a few weeks, we'll see what Bush does next... So I understand this.The fact is I don't make anything from blogging. It pays for my hosting service and bandwidth, but only barely. I'm going to need to find a paying job soon myself.
I'm still blogging but the necessity of making a living really is ringing its bell in my hear now...
Note that zizka is a Real Blogger (meaning he couldn't stay quit). He's John Emerson at Seeing the Forest - very occasionally.
Well said: Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall,
The need for Congress to assert itself in such a case transcends the particulars of Iraq policy. It's important to confirm the democratic character of the state itself. The president is not a king.Senator Kennedy writes, Escalation: It's Not Up To Him,
Some have claimed that the president has the authority to escalate this war without the consent of House and Senate. They dismiss the possibility that Congress has a role to play stopping this president from leading us further into the quicksand in Iraq.
That may have been true when Republicans were in charge, but people elected Democrats to show some backbone. Congress is the voice of the American people, and it’s time those voices are heard in this debate.
People still buy real estate that will be underwater in a few decades. Think about that.
The reason we don't take global warming seriously in America is because ExxonMobil has been spending millions and millions of dollars funding a PR campaign designed to shift our attention away from the problem. This has been very good for business for them, but it has caused each and every one of us to behave in ways that are counter to our OWN and society's interests.
One day this will change. One day the consequences of global warming will become too serious to ignore. One day ExxonMobil will stop paying the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Center for Defense of Free Enterprise and Citizens for a Sound Economy and the American Enterprise Institute and the Frontiers of Freedom Institute and the Heritage Foundation and the Hoover Institution and the National Center for Policy Analysis and the hundreds of other right-wing "think tanks" they pay to tell us global warming is a hoax (read the report), and then the fog will start to lift and we will start to see the world as it is -- the "reality-based" world we live in rather than the one we see on TV.
How is this a "Today's Housing Bubble Post?" Think about what will happen to real estate prices in coastal areas when we do start taking global warming seriously. How much will people pay for real estate that is going to be under water in a few decades?
January 8, 2007
Update - go to home page at http://www.blogtalkradio.com scroll down a bit, and click on flashing "click to listen" icon.
The new Democratic Congress will likely subpoena documents that the White House may refuse to hand over -- if that happens, we may witness a struggle that puts our democratic republic on the brink.The path to impeachment: Congress will ask for information that the public is entitled to - it is OUR government.
The upcoming hearings will undoubtedly include demands for information that the Administration has up till now refused to provide.Bush will refuse,
... The Bush administration has been historic in its refusal to share information with Congress or the public.The, either the Congress impeaches to assert the authority of We The People over the government, or they back down and allow a dictatorship.
At that point Congress will have several options:And it will be us - you and me - bloggers and readers - who demand that the Congress uphold democracy.
# It can make angry noises while in actuality accepting Administration intransigence.
# It can pass legislation establishing a special prosecutor.
# It can appeal to the courts by suing the Administration.
# It can establish a select committee or otherwise threaten impeachment against whatever officials it decides to hold accountable, from the President and Vice-President through cabinet members and other top officials.
But those who think that the worst may be over for the housing market should take another look at the data, economists say. For the figures on new-home sales have a strange wrinkle that, in the current environment, may lead the government to overstate sales (and to understate inventory) by up to 20 percent. “The market is weaker than the data say,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s/Economy.com.Other news:
... But here’s the rub: If a contract to buy a home, signed in November, is canceled in December, the Census Bureau does not subtract the failed transaction from the number of sales, or add the house back to its inventory total. In the last year, as the housing market has cooled, the volume of cancellations has risen to epidemic proportions. [emphasis added]
... Just as the rising tide of cancellations leads the Census Bureau to overreport sales in the short term, it leads the government to underreport inventories. New homes on which contracts are not consummated are not added back into the inventory figure.
T wo weeks ago, I wrote that many Americans might lose their homes because they would not be able to make the mortgage payments.Foreclosures Peak in 2006 in Some States, Continued Growth Expected for 2007
It is worse than I expected. On Dec. 16, the Center for Responsible Lending held a telephone press conference to announce the finding of a new CRL study of sub-prime mortgages.
According to the study, 2.2 million American families with sub-prime mortgages could lose their homes. The problem is escalating and 1 in 5 of this year's sub-prime mortgages may fail. Foreclosures may cost $164 billion.
You can download the study from Responsible Lending's Web site, www.responsiblelending. org. Foreclosure rates were estimated using housing appreciation forecasts developed by Moody's www.economy.com.
Several factors contributed to the year's increasingly high foreclosure rates. Most prominent was the especially high number of subprime mortgages granted over the last several years as well as the sudden increase in energy costs. Also contributing were slowing home sales and rate adjustments.Maine: Foreclosures expected to surge
North Carolina: N.C. foreclosure rates soar in '06
Rosen sees home prices dropping by about 8 percent in the San Francisco Bay Area and 11 percent in Miami over the next few years. NAR predicts increases in home prices next year. Some think we've already hit bottom; others think we haven't hit bottom yet.That's not much help. Heh.
Here's a great headline: HIGH PRICES BLAMED FOR HOUSING SLUMP. D'ya THINK?
(A response to Krugman's column, excerpted here.)
Bush's stubbornness doesn't require a psychological explanation. He's a cornered rat with no other choice. Yes, he's throwing good money after bad, but it's not his money. His money has been gone for a long time - he's using our money to try to win his own money back.
The people on the Bush team have all staked their reputations and their careers on this war, and they cannot afford to admit that they were wrong. If they did, they'd have to admit that they are failures and that their adventurism has done serious damage to the nation they led. (In old Japan they would all have been expected to commit suicide, but we don't work that way.)
Someone with a solid reputation and good credibility can admit a mistake and still remain respected, but before the war few of the Bush people had accomplished anything. Bush, Cheney, Perle, Ledeen, Feith, Rumsfeld , Wolfowitz, Kagan, Libby, Frum .... before the Iraq war they were nothing much. This war was their shot at the big time, but it failed. Instead of the heroes they planned to become, they are now worse than nobodies -- they're object lessons in the perils of arrogant adventurism.
We should not try to change the minds of the people in government, in the media, and in the world of ideas who gave us this war. What we need to do is to displace them and make them harmless. They're going down, and we can't let them take their nation down with them.
January 7, 2007
An open letter to the blogosphere:
For some time now I've been arguing that the problems of the media primarily are caused at the ownership level, and that it's foolish to zero in on specific individual reporters and commentators. The real powers are invisible (owners, publishers, and editors) , and the people whose names we see are basically responding to incentives. Bad reporters get promoted, good reporters get fired (not always, but far too often).
We have the same media wise men today that we did in 2002, even though they have failed us disastrously -- Kristol and some other failures have even been promoted. Neither the Iraq War nor the Democratic Congressional victory seems to have taught anyone anything. We can vote politicians out, but not media -- they are entrenched. As we speak, they're starting to beat up on Nancy Pelosi.
Everyone knows about Scaife, Moon, Peretz, and Murdoch, but I believe that all of the media owners are hopeless. Financial management now dominates operations management (at the Times and the Post, the same individuals head both boards), and the Republican tax cuts and deregulation moves have succeeded in buying the media. (Someone at the Seattle Times specifically named the estate tax as their motive for supporting Republicans). When Ted Turner sold CNN to finance people, CNN went very bad very quickly. Turner was hardly perfect, but he did think about other things than the profit margin.
This country will never be healthy until new media institutions have been brought into being. National TV, national cable, national radio, and a national newspaper -- all new. Air America was a very small start, and it was very poorly supported. We need much more than that.
This is doable -- there's a lot of liberal money out there. But for whatever reason (I suggest stupidity and inattention, but that's just me), the liberal money people are reluctant to put money in media. The new media wouldn't necessarily be profitable, but it wouldn't necessarily be a money sink either. The main thing is, we need it. A considerable percentage of Americans never hear a liberal opinion except in conservative caricature form.
For whatever reason, this message has had no resonance at all so far. But I am convinced that it's the main thing we need.
Calling for an escalation in Iraq just as the Democrats take control of the Congress is a typical Rovian strategy that accomplishes two things:
- It rechannels the debate away from whether we should leave -- now we're all discussing whether to escalate or not rather than whether to get out or not.
- And it places "stay the course" as the reasonable compromise between leave or escalate.
The question that has never been satisfactorily answered - WHY did we invade Iraq? If you ask 100 people you will get 50 different answers - which means that no one really understands.
Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.Maybe that explains this, from the "Energy Task Force" that did its work BEFORE the invasion, Cheney Energy Task Force Documents Detail Iraqi Oil Industry:
The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972.
The huge potential prizes for Western firms will give ammunition to critics who say the Iraq war was fought for oil. They point to statements such as one from Vice-President Dick Cheney, who said in 1999, while he was still chief executive of the oil services company Halliburton, that the world would need an additional 50 million barrels of oil a day by 2010. "So where is the oil going to come from?... The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies," he said.
Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force appeared to have some interest in early 2001 in Iraq's oil industry, including which foreign companies were pursuing business there, according to documents released Friday by a private watchdog group.
Judicial Watch (search), a conservative legal group, obtained a batch of task force-related Commerce Department papers that included a detailed map of Iraq's oil fields, terminals and pipelines as well as a list entitled "Foreign Suitors of Iraqi Oilfield Contracts."
January 5, 2007
The new Democrat-led House of Representatives on Friday passed a second batch of ethics reforms in as many days and resurrected controls they said would help end deficit spending.But wait, there's more!
One day after taking over the House after Republicans' 12-year rule, Democrats won rules changes they claimed would restore civility to the badly tarnished chamber and curb "earmarks" — special-interest money and tax breaks often secretly inserted into legislation.
The move won applause from some of the most conservative House Republicans, including Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who said Democrats "had more guts than we did to tackle earmark reform in a meaningful way. I compliment them for that."
Earmarks have ranged from tax breaks for handfuls of individuals to big-ticket military contracts and lawmakers' hometown projects.
Democrats also pushed through rules changes to tighten up the way floor votes are conducted. The goal was to stop a past Republican practice of holding "15-minute votes" open, sometimes for hours, so they could change the outcome.
The House action followed nearly unanimous approval on Thursday of related ethics reforms putting more distance between lobbyists and lawmakers. That measure bans lobbyists' gifts, restricts privately funded junkets and bans members' use of corporate jets.
... Turning to economic matters, House Democrats won a rules change aimed at controlling federal budget deficits, which have been chronic during President George W. Bush's presidency.
The "pay as you go" rule, in effect for most of the 1990s and until it expired in 2002, would stop new tax cuts or new spending on "entitlement" programs unless those policy changes were paid for through tax hikes or other spending cuts.
Yes, it has started. The Democrats are starting to introduce changes. Bush will certainly veto THIS one! It would ruin the retirement plans of so many of his buddies!
Signaling a renewed emphasis on combating corruption at home and abroad, incoming Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), introduced a package of bills Thursday targeting corrupt officials and private companies seeking to defraud American taxpayers and troops.Some of the hilites of the War Profiteering bill: (followed by the Corruption bill)
... Many Democratic Senators joined Leahy in reintroducing a bill creating criminal penalties for war profiteers and cheats who would exploit taxpayer-funded efforts in Iraq and elsewhere around the world.
The Effective Corruption Prosecutions Act of 2007
War Profiteering Prevention Act of 2007
§ Criminalizes war profiteering, which is defined as materially overvaluing any good or service with the specific intent to excessively profit from the war and relief or reconstruction activities
§ Statute would strengthen the tools available to federal prosecutors to combat war profiteering by providing clear authority for the Government to seek criminal penalties and to recover excessive profits for war profiteering overseas.
§ Prohibits any fraud against the United States, Iraq, or any other foreign country involving a contract for the provision of any goods or services in connection with a war, military action, or relief or reconstruction activities.
§ Subjects violators to up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine not to exceed the greater of $1,000,000 or twice the amount of any illegal gross profits, or both.
§ Prohibits making a false statement in any matter involving a contract for the provision of any goods or services in connection with a war, military action, or relief or reconstruction activities.
§ Subjects violators of this provision to up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine not to exceed the greater of $1,000,000, or twice the amount of any illegal gross profits, or both.
§ Creates extraterritorial jurisdiction over offenses committed overseas, and covers any person in the United States or abroad who violates its provisions.
Provides federal investigators and prosecutors the statutory tools and the resources needed to ensure that serious and insidious public corruption is detected and punished.
Extends the statute of limitations for the most serious public corruption offenses, including bribery, deprivation of honest services, and extortion by a public official, from five years to eight years.
Facilitates the investigation and prosecution of a key federal statute used for prosecuting bribery involving state and local officials, as well as officials of the many organizations that receive substantial federal money
Authorizes $25 million over each of the next four years to give federal investigators and prosecutors needed resources to go after public corruption.
I seem to remember that the economy needs to add 350,000 jobs a month just to keep up with new people entering the job market. Is that right? Am I missing something? Discuss.
Update - OK I was wrong (do NOT tell my wife I said that!) and I think I found where that number stuck in my head.
According to this 2004 Economic Policy Institute snapshot 137,000 new jobs a month is required to break even with population growth and is therefore "required to keep the jobs gap from widening."
At least back in the 90's "357,000 is the weekly initial unemployment insurance claims number below which the unemployment rate is falling rather than rising" according to this 2003 Brad DeLong post. (Brad was speculating that it may be closer to 400,000 now.)
Co-written with James Boyce.
According to numerous reports, in the next few days President Bush will announce an escalation that will send an additional 30,000 or more men and women to serve in Iraq. Some reports indicate that as many as 70,000 additional troops will be on the ground in Iraq by the middle of next year.
Shockingly, three years after the invasion, the total number of men and women in uniform in Iraq could now be 200,000 soldiers. As part of this escalation, President Bush will also seek to permanently increase the size of the United States Army and the Marine Corps reversing a trend to a smaller full time military that has been three decades in the making.
President Bush will call for these additional men and women to serve another tour in Iraq despite the fact that many will have already have served one or more tours of duty there. The rest will be new recruits, young men and women as young as eighteen years of age. Bush will say the need for this "surge" is urgent - and it is, to Bush. As we have learned time and time again over the past few years, Bush urgencies are often different from "reality-based" urgencies: Administration Official: Troop Escalation 'More Of A Political Decision Than A Military One'
As he escalates the war, it will also absolutely clear and final that President Bush will not accept the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group. Furthermore, he will not conduct direct talks with either Iran and Syria; he will not initiate mediation of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and the Generals in Iraq who still favor gradual transition to an independent Iraqi army and withdrawal will be replaced. President Bush is also repeating the mantra of an extended engagement in Iraq, saying the war will be long - it "is going to last for a while" - and his surrogates publicly agree.
In essence, President Bush will ignore the will of the American people, the newly-installed Congress, the recommendations of our military leaders both here at the Pentagon and and on the ground in Iraq, the conclusions of the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group and the rest of the world.
To make it even more shocking, early reports are that he will ask for us to support the escalation by saying that together we need to "sacrifice." In many ways, when one considers who has profited by this war, asking the American public at large to sacrifice is as sick as his December 20 press conference when, to the shock of many, he asked the public to "go shopping more."
But contrary to the strong first words from the new Democratic majority in Washington, we will not be surprised if the escalation takes place, in fact, we fully expect it to. There is the slight possibility of a combined effort between veteran groups, Democratic leaders and the progressive community online stopping the surge, but the chances are not good.
It is happening too fast - yet the timing of the decision to seek the surge squarely puts the responsibility for continuation in the hands of the incoming Democrats. It is close to a no-win situation. And it is clear what the rabid right thinks the Democrats will do.
The purpose of this post is to outline how the President will sell the surge, how we feel Democratic leadership will possibly be "rolled" into allowing it and why it is so critical that we stop it.
We already know that in his initial meetings at the Pentagon, no general or military leader recommended a surge. President Bush ordered Secretary of Defense Gates to bring a plan for escalation to him, not the other way around. With such a plan in hand, of course, the military leadership will fall into line after the Commander-in-Chief announces his strategy - as such is their code of service.
With the military following orders, the right wing strategy of "sell" and "smear" will go into full battle mode. If the past is any prelude, the coordinated effort will be so powerful and well constructed that some Democrats will end up supporting the escalation, falling into the same traps they did when they originally supported the war. Initial Republican grandstanding will fall away. They too will support their leader.
The American people understand this. That's why they reacted so negatively and quickly to Harry Reid's suggestion he might go along with a short term surge. Senator Reid quickly clarified his position.
However, other Senators are falling in line behind the President - bringing legitimacy to what shouldn't even be a debate. Senator Joe Lieberman has already called for more troops. Others have already committed publicly to voting for more troops. Still more will fall in step, either because they don't fully understand the administration's passion for escalation or they still fail to realize the true goals of this administration - if they give this administration an inch, President Bush will be one mile closer to Iran.
The administration handles these things as marketing missions - we're going to dissect it as such. It will be a study in right-wing marketing to watch the President sell his escalation of a strongly unpopular war.
Of course, the underlying methodology will be what it always is: sell and smear. (We discussed the conservative Sell and $mear strategy in our post titled How Long Will The Right Let Us Love Obama, describing how they have attacked our leaders.) Sell and $mear are the two most important words in the war on Iraq.
Despite Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post mocking our premise, saying "Boy, that must be one powerful machine", and frankly with the mainstream media's complicity in the process further enabling it, there is no question that the right wing machine is real, active and ready to sell the surge.
It's sad but true, this is not a military effort, it's a marketing program with 3,000 deaths attached to it. On to Step One.
Selling The Surge - Develop A New Slogan.
Just to show you how coordinated and Pravda-like this administration has become, we have had our new slogan for two months now "A new way forward."
In fact, here's the cover of The Iraq Study Group report - notice the sub-head "The Way Forward - A New Approach"
But the Study Group diverged from the administration game plan - they actually did their job and their proposals directly conflict with the goals of the administration. Having pushed the release of the report till after the mid-term election, the administration has officially dismissed their recommendations. In high irony, they were called both "unrealistic" and "impractical."
This is what has caused this unfortunate interlude for the administration. They had the slogan - they needed the ISG to complete the mission and give them permission to escalate, but the ISG didn't play the game, so now there's been weeks of reflection.
This is window dressing nothing more, nothing less because the decision to escalate and double down was made some time ago - how do we know? We know because IN DECEMBER, PRESIDENT BUSH REQUESTED AN ADDITIONAL $100 BILLION IN SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDS FOR THE WAR.
The initial budget for Iraq and Afghanistan was $70 billion for this year - now they are adding $100 billion on top of that. That's funding for a major escalation of the war - not a short term surge. That's funding of almost $2,000,000,000 a week more than was already budgeted.
The Iraq Study Group was going to provide the air cover for the escalation. Think of it as a focus group that was completed with the hope that it would tell the executives what they wanted to hear. When it didn't, it became bad research - something to be ignored.
The charade has continued.
Over the past few weeks, President Bush has held meetings, roundtables, conversations, consultations and so on, but again, the conclusion was made long ago, the interlude has been need to fine tune the sell of the escalation - not debate whether or not it is the right policy to follow, because clearly, it is not. In fact, it is now coming to light that the surge strategy has come from some of the original neoconservative thinkers who advocated the war in hte first place. So the ISG, the consultations, the debates, it's all absolute crap - cover. The decider has decided, the escalation is in full force, and the budget for it has been submitted.
Of course, you won't even hear the word escalation, instead we have a new term "surge" - a word that seems to be more of a marketing phrase than a military strategy. We can't easily recall an historical example when "surge" was used to describe a military operation because it's not a military term.
"Surge" puts you over the top. "Surge" says just a little more and we win and we come home. "Surge" sure sounds nice. That phrase must have tested well in the focus groups, but if you look a bit deeper, past the nice-sounding word, what does it mean?
What if the "surge" occurs but the fighting in Iraq stays at current levels - or increases? Will 20,000 troops really matter? Military experts say no. Then what? A second surge?
Will an administration that thinks "surging" is good strategy withdraw troops in the face of continued or increased violence? If not - and they won't - this isn't a "surge" at all. The likelihood is that no matter how the surge gets started, in practical terms, at the end of the day, it is not short term proposition, it's not a "surge," it is an escalation.
How can you sell that?
Create a core selling proposition and stick to it.
To sell an escalation disguised as a surge when Saddam is dead and there are no WMDS, there can be only one true perfect fall back position:
It's for the troops.
"The troops." It worked before, so try it again. Everyone supports the troops, we have to support our troops, we need more troops so the troops that are there have more support.
Our troops need more troops. They're stretched thin. They need help. You do love our troops don't you? (Of course, if they came HOME they wouldn't be "stretched thin" at all...)
They've sacrificed for us. We need to sacrifice for them and support the surge.
Who can argue with victory? Everybody wants to win right? Precisely the point - you can't argue.
But what is "victory?" Was it defeating the Iraqi army, removing Saddam from power and declaring "Mission Accomplished?" Apparently not.
Was it fighting "foreign fighters?" That was the mission - until it was pointed out there were few foreign fighters.
Was it to capture or kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of al-Queda in Iraq? He's been dead since June.
Was it fighting against Sunni insurgents? For a while.
Was it to bring a Constitution and elections? Iraq has a constitution and has had elections.
Was it hanging Saddam as punishment for his crimes against humanity? The world watched it happen.
So we can't define victory but we need to have it. In fact, now we're told we're not losing, we're not winning, but there is one unwavering fact - we're still fighting.
So after months of being told, absolutely we're winning, now we're told that we're going to lose because we don't have enough troops. But surging the troops means victory. Those who oppose more troops oppose victory. And aren't supporting the troops who are already there.
So now the count is three pretty good traps laid for the Democrats. It's just a "surge" to clean up the mess, bring "victory" which everyone wants and "it's for the troops."
If anyone opposes the "surge" they will be denying the American People the moment of victory, "we've fought so hard that we need just a little bit more and it'll put us over the top and we'll surge to victory."
If the Democrats oppose, well, then yet again, the Democrats will be against "the troops." Our troops have made this sacrifice and they need help, damn it.
But just as the Democrats have fallen before for the marketing phrase "support the troops" when supporting the troops really meant leaving them in Iraq, so too might many of them now be tricked into rationalizing giving the administration its escalation.
Because not only is President Bush selling the surge, he is selling the victory that has been so elusive in Iraq - elusive, by the way, because it doesn't exist. Victory means defeating the enemy - but who is the enemy? Which brings us to another important part of the sell and smear proposition.
If the facts are against you, ignore the facts.
The "surge" is supposed to fight "the enemy." But the troops will be moved there to fight ... who?
Who are we fighting in Iraq? While previously we were fighting "Sunni / Saddamist insurgents" and "al-Queda" the "surge" was - at least originally - said to be needed in order to fight the "Sadrist" militias and death squads of Moqtada al-Sadr.
Yet the Da'wa party of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, is allied with Moqtada al-Sadr - recently demonstrated when the execution of Saddam Hussein was carried out by Sadrist Shiites chanting "Moqtada, Moqtada."
Last week, Republican Senator Richard Lugar made this same point,
"The administration needs to identify precisely where the battle lines are -- who is it we combat. I haven't seen such lines," Lugar said.
The chanting at Saddam's execution was critical important proof of a core fact - Iraq is in a civil war. This leaves it unclear who our forces are with or against.
Some people will stand up and say this. And that originally people thought the occupation of Iraq would take many more than 200,000 soldiers and they were relieved from their jobs. Or that three years ago, President Bush declared "Mission Accomplished." Or that Senator Lieberman said earlier this year, that by now, we would be reducing troops.
Some people, more now than before, will speak up. How does this marketing plan deal with them?
Smear and ridicule the truth-tellers
The Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group was widely smeared and ridiculed by Bush-supporters/surrogates across the country as the "Iraq Surrender Group" and "The Appeasement Caucus." This follows the pattern on their attacks on anyone who has questioned the war, from John Kerry to Jack Murtha.
It's petty, high-school, taunting and intimidation from bullies. And it is the policy and practice of this administration.
Because rather than ask these surrogates to tone down the vitriol the Bush White House instead contributed to it, remarking after receiving the report that Baker could "go back to his day job now."
Asked if Baker would help implement the report, a spokesman for Mr. Bush said, "Jim Baker can go back to his day job."
The Bush-supporting NY Post printed a front-page graphic of the Baker and Hamilton as 'surrender monkeys' on front page.
The graphic mocking the ISG report was also used across the right's websites, like this one repeatedly re-posted on the conservative Redstate blog over several days.
And at YouTube you can view the Sing-Along: Baker/Hamilton Surrender Monkey
In an insane world, the sane people look crazy. Because if you think about it, we couldn't surrender or receive a surrender even if we wanted to because we're not at war with anyone. Again we're sitting in the middle of a civil war between two factions and we're getting kids killed in the process. We can leave but there can never be a surrender.
The surge is coming. Can we stop it?
Given the slogan, the selling proposition and the coordinated effort that will take place to support the selling proposition, the answer is more than likely, no, we can not stop it.
The Democratic leadership in Washington will lose much of its first day bravado in the face of the machine. They are intent on holding hearings on Iraq and will become increasingly fixated on using legislative powers to investigate the war, and as they do so, possibly losing site of the goal - not to mention the immediate issue - President Bush will send more troops to Iraq next week.
Anyway, frankly, at the hearings they're going to be "hearing" what everyone already knows. They may also tie themselves up in all the politics of the matter - a sure fire way to lose track of right and wrong.
If they waver, a second factor of complicity comes into play. With no draft or real sacrifice, the vast majority of the general public has not been greatly affected by the situation. And Americans certainly don't want to "lose" the "war." The coordinated machine's selling of the initial invasion (40% of Americans still believe that Saddam had something to do with 9/11) is still with us so the general outcry needed to stop the surge might not exist. In fact, the right's use of the very word "war" is part of the sell. It's an occupation, not a war.
Until the situation in Iraq becomes painful for every American, either through loss or financial pain, such as an emergency gas tax to fund it, it could well continue.
There's only one problem.
Of those 200,000 men and women in uniform, how many will not come home . Of those that do, how many will not come home whole?
That's why the time to end this is now. No more hearings. No more discussions. No more meetings. And under no circumstances, can we compromise and accept the "surge."
Because, as we said, if we give an inch, President Bush will be one mile closer to Iran.
We were fooled once. If that happens again, shame on each and every one of us.
Our men and women in uniform dedicate their lives to protecting us. Now, it's our turn to dedicate our lives to protecting them.
So please, join us in supporting leaders like Jack Murtha and others, who are going to stand up and try to:
Stop the surge.
January 4, 2007
As part of their claim that news coverage from Iraq is dishonest and fake, Michelle Malkin and other conservative operatives have been claiming for weeks that Jamil Hussein does not exist. Back in November, Hussein verified the details of a particularly savage political murder, in which six Sunnis were set on fire when they came out of their mosque. (No one knows why Malkin felt that these six of the hundreds of political murders in Iraq were so important.)
Well, Jamil Hussein has been found, and he's been arrested. Getting arrested in Iraq is no picnic, and I hope he survives.
Good work, Michelle! The guy really did exist along, and he still does, but that may not be true much longer. This should teach the Iraqis not to talk to the lying American press!
Last month something ate up a tremendous amount of bandwidth at Seeing the Forest, costing me a lot of money. So now I regularly check bandwidth use.
Why has 22.214.171.124, HopOne in DC, been eating a HUGE amount of bandwidth? Gigabytes! What are they doing? (I banned them.)
Why has 126.96.36.199, an IP in India, been eating a tremendous amount of bandwidth? What are they doing?
Why has 188.8.131.52, an IP in Ukraine, been eating a tremendous amount of bandwidth? What are they doing?
Why has 184.108.40.206 AND 220.127.116.11 AND 18.104.22.168 AND 22.214.171.124 AND 126.96.36.199, all from the same company in Amsterdam, been eating a TREMENDOUS amount of bandwidth? What are they doing?
Why is 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206 and Abacus America Inc.eating a TREMENDOUS amount of my bandwidth,
Energy giant ExxonMobil borrowed tactics from the tobacco industry to raise doubt about climate change, spending $16 million on groups that question global warming, a science watchdog group said on Wednesday.
"ExxonMobil (XOM.N: Quote, Profile , Research) has manufactured uncertainty about the human causes of global warming just as tobacco companies denied their product caused lung cancer," Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists said at a telephone news conference releasing the report.
An ExxonMobil spokesman did not respond immediately to calls for comment.
... U.S. tobacco companies used these tactics for decades to hide the hazards of smoking, and were found liable in federal court last year for violating racketeering laws. [emphasis added]
See also AP - Group: ExxonMobil paid to mislead public
Finally, see this from September, The Denial Industry,
ExxonMobil Corp. gave $16 million to 43 ideological groups between 1998 and 2005 in an effort to mislead the public by discrediting the science behind global warming, the Union of Concerned Scientists asserted Wednesday.
The report by the advocacy group mirrors similar claims by Britain's leading scientific academy. Last September, The Royal Society wrote the oil company asking it to halt support for groups that "misrepresented the science of climate change."
... ExxonMobil lists on its Web site nearly $133 million in 2005 contributions globally, including $6.8 million for "public information and policy research" distributed to more than 140 think tanks, universities, foundations, associations and other groups. Some of those have publicly disputed any link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
Alden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists' strategy and policy director, said in a teleconference that ExxonMobil based its tactics on those of tobacco companies, spreading uncertainty by misrepresenting peer-reviewed scientific studies or emphasizing only selected facts.
Dr. James McCarthy, a professor at Harvard University, said the company has sought to "create the illusion of a vigorous debate" about global warming.
For years, a network of fake citizens' groups and bogus scientific bodies has been claiming that science of global warming is inconclusive. They set back action on climate change by a decade. But who funded them? Exxon's involvement is well known, but not the strange role of Big Tobacco. In the first of three extracts from his new book, George Monbiot tells a bizarre and shocking new story.
I was listening on the radio to House Republican leader John Boehner introducing the incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
He just couldn't help himself. He just had to throw in a stupid, childish insult.
In his historic introduction of the first woman to be Speaker, he referred to the "Democrat Party."
January 3, 2007
Did you know that TV and radio stations are using YOUR common airwaves and are therefore required to serve the public interest?
The Oregon Alliance to Reform Media, or ARM, has filed a petition at the FCC to deny its renewal of all the commercial TV station licenses in Portland, Ore., saying its coverage of elections does not meet the FCC's standard of public-interest service, which is to meet the needs of the community.Of course, this is the BUSH FCC, so they'll just refuse to do anything. But maybe if we alert the public and make enough noise... now that there is oversight, maybe the Congress will work to force the Bush FCC to enforce the law.
The group uses as supporting material a study from the Campaign Media Legal Center that found that, in the four weeks prior to the election in 2004, less than 1% of newscasts were devoted to coverage of state elections, about 9% to ballot issues and less than 1% to local elections.
The group claims the study covered "substantially all of the regularly scheduled locally produced news available in Portland."
The group argues that the FCC must at least designate the license challenge for hearing--something it rarely does--saying that its petition raises "substantial and material questions of fact" that make that designation mandatory.
Of course, the FCC can also conclude that the evidence does not meet that burden of proof, as it did recently in denying a license challenge to Chicago commercial stations over minority issues.
One more thing the Bush cronies are doing to hurt people.
January 2, 2007
A great diary about the history of labor vs capital and where we go from here. Daily Kos: The Pillaging of America.
"Never tell a Frenchman to eat cake.""Economic treason" is a term from the comments. Read this in combination with this diary: Euro Officially Surpasses Dollar
-- especially look at the charts to see what Bush has done to us.
A song for the new year.
Jess Jackson used to say "Get the money from - where the money went."