For The Trees
Who is our economy FOR, anyway?
About the Authors:
BEST OF STF:
Articles not at STF:
The ATLA Speech on building a progressive infrastructure
Lowering the Bar
The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law
Who's Behind the Attack on Liberal Professors
On the Right and their communications infrastructure:
Why Republicans Win
Win or Lose
The "Conventional Wisdom" Machine
Some History of the Conservative Movement
HOW TO FIGHT BACK
An Amplifier Of Our Own
Don't Blame the Democrats
How They Do It 1 2 3 4
You're Gonna Get Drafted
Scalia and Self-Government
Who is Our Economy For?
Voting Machine Story Link Collection
What's Wrong with this Picture? (Voting Machines)
Like Meat in the Supermarket
Thin Line 1 2 3
Fixing Social Security
Seeing the Forest I, II, III
"Incredibly Positive News"
The Breadth of It
The Republican Crony Club
Ralph Nader is a Scab
John's Best Of:
Kerry Smear Page
9/11 Commission Report Damages Bush -- if you read it
Florida Goon Squad Intimidated the Supreme Court
The Use and Abuse of George Orwell
Zizka's Archives (John's previous identity)
Information Clearing House
What REALLY Happened
Links to Other Weblogs:
Digby Says About Republicans
About the Plame affair:
"These guys control all branches of government and operate above the law in plain sight with no repercussions. They’ll keep the media merrily chasing decades-old rumors of gossip of whispers that say that as a Lt Governor, Howard Dean was once seen using the office telephone for personal use, which while not specifically illegal is nonetheless shockingly improper in its appearance of impropriety."
Credit crunch coming?
Are Americans facing a credit crunch?:
" The American Bankers Association (ABA) reported Tuesday that 4.09 percent of all credit-card accounts were delinquent in the third quarter, the highest rate on record, and said the weak job market was probably to blame.Shit hitting fan yet?
Overcome At A Meeting
I was at a Dean precinct-walking organizing meeting last night. One woman attending the meeting raised her hand to speak, and started to say something concerning precinct walking, and then suddenly was in tears. She explained that she had been watching some news about Iraq earlier, and had been thinking about it, and in the middle of talking she was overcome by how terrible it is what is happening, and how great it was that she was able to attend a meeting in a room full of people who are trying to do something about it.
This wasn't a "latte-drinking, body-piercing, public radio listening" caricature that the Republicans have of their opponents. This was a corporate executive. What is happening in our country is NOT the usual "political cycle."
Best Anti-Bush Ad
Bush In 41.2 Seconds. Warning, this is a SATIRE of the MoveOn ads! In fact, it captures what I thought was wrong with many of the submissions. Some of the submissions were very good, but many were just angry blasts at Bush, guaranteed to turn off most Americans. Several of the finalists fall into this category.
To reach people, it's better to show images they will identify with at an emotional level, and people who are like them, expressing views that the viewer might express. You can use a negative message to undermine support, but it's better to plant a question than to blast anger. Don't just say "Bush lies." Say something that the viewer can relate to. Remember, the viewers are starting from an attitude of liking Bush and believing his message. So you are insulting them if you are just saying Bush is wrong, or Bush is lying. That's calling the viewer a fool.
In my opinion, the MoveOn finalists that are most effective are "Child's Pay," "What are we teaching our children?," "Imagine" (borderline), and "Human Cost of War" (for other reasons - it has an emotional impact). Unfortunately there were some excellent submissions that didn't make it to the finals. One of the best that I remember was women talking to each other over coffee.
Time To Boycott NPR
Read this at Eschaton, and be sure to read the references a Media Whores Online.
I think it is time for a very public boycott of NPR. I think we're seeing an example of NPR's response to the pressure from the right. Well, guess what, WE are Americans. too. OUR interests are just as legitimate as those of the right-wingers.
The Nation: University of California's Institute for Labor and Employment under attack by Olin/Scaife funded "think tank"
[This arrived in my inbox via the LaborGreens mailing list. The line below prompted me to post:
"Yet the question indicates how far public discourse has moved since the National Labor Relations Act became the nation's basic law giving unions legal status."
The context is a discussion of whether it is appropriate for the taxpayer to fund anything that promotes the interests of labor [in this case, academic research]. The author highlights the fact that the government spend untold millions (tens of millions? hundreds of millions?) funding programs that promote the interest of business, and that (at least on paper), the official policy of the federal government, since 1936, has been to encourage (not merely permit) collective bargaining.
Again, appropos to the theme of this web log... this is an excellent example of how the far right has attempted to shift the ground on which public policy debates occur, and of how they do it (hundreds of thousands of dollars from in Olin and Scaife money to the Pacific Research Institute in this case), with the ultimate goal being to defund and disable institutions which support progressive action and the rights of the average working person. -Thomas]
by David Bacon
in The Nation, January 12th, 2004
The best labor studies programs like to think of themselves as
activist-oriented--firmly grounded in the gritty world of workers.
They don't usually find themselves at the center of high-profile
political disputes. But in Sacramento cloakrooms, where lobbyists
normally whisper blandishments into legislators' ears, the University
of California's labor studies program is now being discussed in
language once reserved for reds, and worse. The program, lobbyists
say, not only organized meetings to stop the recall of then-Governor
Gray Davis, but last summer "union thugs" supposedly even left those
meetings to beat up recall petition circulators.
The accusations sound pretty wild, even considering California's usual
election histrionics, but they're more than just overheated rhetoric.
It's payback time in Sacramento. When newly elected Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger unilaterally imposed draconian budget cuts on the state
just before Christmas, he wiped out this year's remaining funding for
the Institute for Labor and Employment. If he does the same thing with
next year's appropriation in March, the institute will be destroyed.
Blurring the line between journalism and lobbying (from Washington Monthly).
[The item below arrived in my mailbox via the Politech mailing list, which all free thinkers and free speech advocates are highly advised to subscribe to. Thought it was appropriate to the theme of this web log. -Thomas]
I thought you [and Politech] might enjoy this essay on the blurring line
between journalism and lobbying. The title is "Meet the Press", by
Nicholas Confessore from the December 2003 Washington Monthly.
James Glassman and TCS have given birth to something quite new in
Washington: journo-lobbying. It's an innovation driven primarily by the
influence industry. Lobbying firms that once specialized in gaining
person-to-person access to key decision-makers have branched out. The new
game is to dominate the entire intellectual environment in which officials
make policy decisions, which means funding everything from think tanks to
issue ads to phony grassroots pressure groups.
But TCS doesn't just act like a lobbying shop. It's actually published by
one--the DCI Group, a prominent Washington "public affairs" firm
specializing in P.R., lobbying, and so-called "Astroturf" organizing,
generally on behalf of corporations, GOP politicians, and the occasional
Third-World despot. The two organizations share most of the same owners,
some staff, and even the same suite of offices in downtown Washington, a
block off K Street. As it happens, many of DCI's clients are also
"sponsors" of the site it houses. TCS not only runs the sponsors' banner
ads; its contributors aggressively defend those firms' policy positions, on
TCS and elsewhere.
Jim Hightower's Weblog
Did you know that Jim Hightower has a Weblog?
Unprecedented In Modern Times
Reporter Mistakenly Covers Issues of Presidential Campaign @ Oliver Willis:
"The calm of the presidential campaign today was disrupted by an unprecedented event. White House press secretary Scott McClellan called the event 'disturbing', and promised it would 'be looked into at the highest levels of government'. At approxiamately 2:34pm (EST), reporter Mo Godwin of the Topeka News Tribune filed a story about the presidential campaign consisting only of perspectives on policy issues."How could this happen in America!
CincyDemo blog asks: Is it true that Bush's occupation forces have tortured Iraqi POWs?.
"Ownership society" scam on the way
The good things in your life can be your own property, or they can be things which have a monetary value but aren't property in a legal sense (such as a good job with benefits, or Social Security and other entitlements), or they can be public goods such as safe neighborhoods or good public schools.
For various reasons Americans (compared to Swedes, for example) have always preferred property they can solely control to the good things which take other forms. Americans also tend to overestimate their own success and their prospects for future success. For these two reasons, Republican attempts to deliver big benefits to their rich contributers (e.g., the elimination of the "death tax") get an amazing amount of support from people who basically are fooling themselves. They think that they're property owners, but they're not. They're labor.
Almost all Americans are still labor -- dependent on their own or someone else's wages. Various legal fictions invented in order to bust unions or to evade taxes (such as declaring certain categories of workers to be "contractors" or "supervisors") obscure this fact. But if you can't live off your property but have to work for a living, you're labor. (Small businessmen are a borderline case).
Take a 45-year-old guy with a paid-up $100,000 home, a $50,000 / year job with good benefits and a pension plan (in addition to Social Security), and two kids 6 and 8 whom he plans to send to the pretty-good public schools in his neighborhood*. And suppose that he also has $30,000 on the stock market.
Because he's a home owner with money on the stock market, he might be tempted to think of himself as part of the investor class. But he's not. If he loses his job and can't get another one, he and his family will be destitute in three to five years. If his neighborhood decays, he won't be able to move. If the local schools decline, he won't be able to send them to private schools. A net worth of $130,000 really isn't very much.
But his property is his alone. He doesn't share it or depend on anyone else for it. The other goods are much more valuable all put together, but they are not his property and not in his control.
The present trend in fake Republican populism is to reduce taxes while converting various forms of government entitlements (Social Security, education, Medicare, etc.) into cash benefits or vouchers. Simultaneously, workers with piddling little stock market nest-eggs are encouraged to believe that now they've "made it". Both scams depend on the fact that money in the hand has a definite countable value and is controlled by the owner, whereas it's harder to put a dollar value on good public schools, which are a shared good.
In the vast majority of cases the guy with the money in his hand will end up worse off in the "ownership society". There is no intention to improve his life. He's being sold a pig in a poke, and once his signature is on the dotted line (i.e., once the bill passes Congress) he'll be dead meat.
There are people who will benefit from the "ownership society", of course. But they are not the ones who it's being sold to, but the ones who are selling it. That's the way scams work.
* NOTE: In large areas of the U.S. the public schools still are pretty good. Oddly, a lot of the outcry about "our failing public schools" comes from Southerners, whose schools have never been very good. You'd think they'd put their own house in order before preaching to others, but human nature doesn't work that way.
("The Rise of the Worker-Investor" by Rich Lowry of the National Review is a recent example of this scam).
Originally from this discussion on Brad DeLong
We want our jokes!
Ok, now. Neil Bush has admitted in court to suffering from herpes and to having had sex with an unknown number of mysterious women in two cities of Asia. His ex-wife is being sued for claiming that Neil was the real father of another man's child. So where are the jokes?
Leno and Letterman won't touch the story. Like all normal Americans, Leno and Letterman love scurrilous gossip. Herpes is funny. Whores are funny, especially if you don't know who's paying them. Libel suits about adultery are funny. We can all agree on that.
If any of these stories were about Bill, or Bill's no-good brother Roger, or Hillary (to say nothing of Chelsea!), we'd be having a regular laff riot right now.
So where are the jokes? Come on, guys, what's the problem? What are you afraid of? We want our jokes! We want our fun!
(Originally from a discussion on Atrios),
Zizka here. Dave has invited me to be guest blogger here at Seeing the Forest, and I am very happy to accept his offer. Some of you may remember me from my own site, the final incarnation of which was here. I tried to kill my site for months, mostly because it took too much energy to update it often enough to keep the readers coming. Being a guest blogger will a real treat for me.
More very soon.
Blog Hero Award
I hereby grant the coveted Blog Hero Award to this post today: Whiskey Bar: Slander.
Another Calexico fan!
Whiskey Bar: Deflation Nation
Whiskey Bar: Deflation Nation. I know it's long, but I feel like I'm giving everyone a heads-up if I suggest reading this. I'd feel guilty reading it and not passing it along.
Here are the finalists from MoveOn.org's Bush in 30 Seconds ad contest. I think they should run them all.
Today's S&P 500 PE ratio is 30.6. See how this fits into a historical perspective here.
Update -A better chart, going back pre-1929 here.
William Rivers Pitt | Two Loud Words:
"George W. Bush is going to run in 2004 on the idea that his administration is the only one capable of protecting us from another attack like the ones which took place on September 11. Yet the record to date is clear. Not only did they fail in spectacular fashion to deal with those first threats, not only has their reaction caused us to be less safe, not only have they failed to sufficiently bolster our defenses, but they used the aftermath of the attacks to ram through policies they couldn't have dreamed of achieving on September 10. It is one of the most remarkable turnabouts in American political history: Never before has an administration used so grisly a personal failure to such excellent effect."We were attacked, and instead of dealing with the attack, the Republicans turned our grief and anger to their own political advantage. They passed tax cuts handing billions to campaign contributors, led us into pre-planned wars, and shamelessly set us against each other.
To put what the Repubicans are doing into perspective, think about this: Just the act of saying Republicans are better for protecting America than Democrats is a gross politicization of what happened, and is extremely divisive at a time when we should be sticking together. It weakens us. But the Republicans are going far, far beyond that. They accuse Democrats not only of lack of patriotism, but of actually "hating America" and supporting our enemies.
Donate To Disabled American Veterans
Juan Cole has a story about the large numbers of wounded in Iraq (11,000 medical evacuations). He suggests donating do the Disabled American Veterans.
A quick observation. Gephardt several times took past statements or positions by other candidates, distorts them, and then tries to claim this means the other candidate has a different position than that candidate really has, or that the candidate has somehow flip-flopped. He has done this several times. I like Gephardt -- a lot -- but this is the kind of thing that is so distasteful about "old politics." This is one of the tricks Republicans use.
Lieberman did this, about Dean's records. And now Kerry is doing this. What do they think they gain? The uninformed vote?
Who the hell is Michelle Norris, asking questions about "tax relief?" Tax RELIEF? She gets her questions from the Republican Party? From Lakoff:
"On the day that George W. Bush took office, the words "tax relief" started appearing in White House communiqués. Think for a minute about the word relief. In order for there to be relief, there has to be a blameless, afflicted person with whom we identify and whose affliction has been imposed by some external cause. Relief is the taking away of the pain or harm, thanks to some reliever.
Madeleine K. Albright: Endangered friendships,
"The Republican strategy could play well among those persuaded by the administration's implicit claims that the invasion of Iraq was essentially a retaliatory measure for Sept. 11 and that attacking Saddam Hussein was simply another way of attacking Osama bin Laden.
This Is How They Campaign For Office
This is how they do it: The following is from The Howard Dean implosion,
"Dean's success amongst Democrats can be largely attributed to the fact that he has been able to galvanize and energize certain factions of the Democratic Party: namely the "new age hippies" and those who are seriously desperate for either a date or a party.This is not just an accidental, glib, throw-away wingnut hit piece. This is part of a coordinated, researched, tested, professional character assassination campaign that will phase in and ramp up between now and the election. This is the modern Republican Party. This is Norquist's Wednesday Meeting, and Karl Rove and the Wurlitzer, and cigarette company marketing people, and former CIA destabilization specialists all working together to do their job ON YOU! (Also see here.) This is George Bush "staying above the fray" while his subordinates engage in the nastiest kind of character assassination and voter manipulation -- spreading lying, humiliating, ridiculing smear after lying, humiliating, ridiculing smear until even YOU hate Dean! You'll see thousands of these smear jobs this year. You're going to see literally 10 or 20 of these every single day until the slime and humiliating and ridicule build up so deep that you even hate yourself just for thinking of voting.
Here's the author's bio. Note this: "Rachel has served as a Director of a Washington, DC-based political think-tank". Try Googling her, and see how she's connected to "the movement." Go here to see the letters of praise from the White House and Ken Starr. "Thanks for everything you are doing, and have done, on behalf of the President's agenda." This is a professional, working for The Party.
Steel yourself, prepare yourself, get ready for a year of this, getting worse every single day. This is what is coming. This is what they do!
The way to fight it is to recognize that this is what they do, and not get confused by the words, and not get bogged down trying to refute each smear. Recognize that this is what they do, and tell everyone you can that this is what they do. Do your research, so you understand who is doing it and how it works. Talk to others. Write letters to newspapers. Call talk shows. Send e-mails to reporters. Demand that they stop it! And help others get angry at the perpetrators rather than fall for the scam.
Coordinated Dissemination of Strategic Messages
Coordinated Dissemination of Strategic Messages
See also: Appendix 1 -- Example of Coordinated Dissemination of a Strategic Message
Who Makes Policy For The United States?
Bush to Seek Immigrant Benefit Protection (washingtonpost.com):
"The immigration plan is Bush's first policy announcement of his reelection year, and aides said it was calibrated by Bush's senior adviser, Karl Rove."Do you remember when Bush advisor DiIulio left, saying that the White House has no policy apparatus at all? Here's a reminder, EX-BUSH ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TELLS ESQUIRE: NO SERIOUS CONSIDERATION GIVEN TO DOMESTIC POLICY IN WHITE HOUSE AT ALL:
"There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus," DiIulio tells Esquire. "What you've got is everythingand I mean everythingbeing run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."Think about what that meant: Bush in office with no intent to govern the country at all. And here is an example of this. When policies are announced, whose office do they come from? The POLITICAL advisor.
The entire government functioninsolelyty to further the interests of the Republican Party and no other purpose.
Party over country, to an extent never before seen.
Another Republican Smear Circulating -- Dean An Abortionist
I really didn't mean for this to be Howard Dean Smear Day (previously today this and this), but I keep coming across things ... like this, Is Dean An Abortionist?:
"But there is one area of the Dean bio that we find of particular interest, his medical degree. [. . .] Unlike many medical professionals - even former ones - Dean has a particularly strong affinity for that most controversial of medical procedures abortion.or ... Dean's Planned Parenthood Ties Raise Questions About Abortion (a right-wing Christian site)
"The clinic where Dean interned and later worked as a contract physician began performing abortions in 1982, Silver said. It is unclear when Dean's work as a contract physician for Planned Parenthood ended.and this, Dr. Dean the Abortionist, and this at Heritage's TownHall, A Dean's list of questions,
"And speaking of controversial issues, is the Democratic Party ready to unite behind a leader who, as a med student, performed his OB-GYN rotation at a Planned Parenthood clinic? Vermont magazine reported on this in 1998, adding: "While he has never performed an abortion himself, he is strongly pro-choice and certainly understands the medical procedures involved." Which must rate as the medical equivalent of not inhaling."or this at National Right to Life, A Closer Look at Howard Dean, or this at LifeNews.com,
"Dean, who is viewed by some as the most pro-abortion presidential candidate because of the stint he performed at Planned Parenthood during medical school..."or this at PressRepublican.com, His record erodes trust,
"The only plausible explanation is that he is a political opportunist, saying and doing anything to curry the favor of some voters. It becomes clear that Gov. Dean does not believe in the dignity and sanctity of innocent human life, so how could he be trusted with deciding the destiny of people?"It is going to be a nasty campaign. The Bush family pattern is to stay above the fray while his campaign circulates the absolute nastiest character assassination imaginable. A year before the election and they are already saturating the country with rumors of every nasty accusation... and it doesn't matter how ridiculous each one is, they add up.
Is Bush going to be able to get away with this? Remember what they did to Clinton? They just made up story after story, accusation after accusation. Remember the stories about Vince Foster? Remember the stories about all the people Clinton had murdered in Arkansas? Remember the stories about crack pipes and dildos on the White House Christmas tree? THIS is what is going to happen, and after enough of it, people are just so disgusted and fed up... How many times have you heard reasonable people refer back to "the Clinton Scandals" as if there actually WERE any?! And after this, Bush runs for the White House on a theme of "restoring honor and integrity to the White House!" The nastiest, vilest, most disgusting lies were circulated -- and the ones responsible, like Ted Olson, were rewarded. Olson is now the Solicitor General of the United States! THIS is how Bush responded to that filth, using it to win the White House and rewarding the purveyors. The Republicans circulate that crap and then when the public environment is so polluted by it that the public is disgusted and turned off they USE IT to take over the government!
We just can't let them get away with it again. We just can't let this kind of tactic work for them. It demeans us all.
I almost never do this, but I had a few minutes with nothing to do, so I was clicking through the channels, and came across Beltway Boys on Fox News. They were talking about Howard Dean. What struck me was that (almost?) every single thing they said was either just false, or a gross distortion! Dean is the angry white male, while Bush is the positive, optimistic candidate. Dean's slips of the tongue are out of control. Dean said he is going to use Christianity politically, but only in the South. Dean said that Osama bin Laden shouldn't be found guilty. Dean "whined" that the other candidates are attacking him too much. Dean said he wouldn't let his supporters vote for other candidates if he doesn't get the nomination. And, of course, Dean said America is no safer with Saddam captured, which of course it is.
This is going to be a long, tough campaign, and the ONLY question is whether there will be a way to counter the lies, and reach the public past the corporate- and/or right-controlled media.
Tips For Dave From Wealth Bondage
Tips for Dave Johnson on Blog Begging
Story: Reports: Dean was warned on lax Vermont security:
"Presidential hopeful Howard Dean, who accuses President Bush of being weak on homeland security, was warned repeatedly as Vermont governor about security lapses at his state's nuclear power plant and was told the state was ill-prepared for a disaster at its most attractive terrorist target."Dean was not just warned, but warned repeatedly:
"During Dean's final year in office in 2002, an audit concluded that despite a decade of repeated warnings of poor safety at Vermont Yankee, Dean's administration was poorly prepared for a nuclear disaster."So Dean's response?
""After September 11, Governor Dean decided the buck stops here in terms of security and personally ran this effort, creating a Cabinet-level agency," spokesman Jay Carson said."And,
"Dean responded by writing the head of the plant that the problems could "have an impact on the health and safety of the people of Vermont" and "it is my expectation that you will do all in your power to correct this declining trend." It was one of several such letters he wrote."Oh, well never mind, then.
The Former Governor: As the Race Turns Hot, What About Dean’s Collar?:
"'Howard gets angry,' said one longtime friend, Thomas R. Hudspeth, a professor at the University of Vermont. 'He doesn't suffer people being unfair or duplicitous. In the heat of sports events with his kids, for instance, I can remember him yelling, red-faced, his neck muscles bulging,' if, as a spectator, he saw dishonesty among his children's opponents or poor calls by referees. 'And there were a couple of reporters who were always really good at getting his goat.'"In other words, not a slick, blow-dried, professional politician with carefully prepared, evasive non-answers guaranteed to offend no one. Oh dear! How can we allow THAT!
Later in the story,
"During the current campaign, with scrutiny heightened, the Dean temper has yet to show much of itself in public and, aides say, has appeared only a few times in private.Oh, well never mind then. Of course, why write the article in the first place?
Today's anti-Jewish character assassination smear-job from The Party: You've Got the Wrong Jesus, Howard.
Previous post on this subject, with previous example.
"It doesn't matter WHO the Democrats nominate, it matters how that candidate responds to Republican character assassination. That's what Republicans DO."And previous warning that this is what Republicans DO, in "Getting It":
""Getting it," in this election, means understanding the new political environment of a near-fascist right controlling the White House, the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Courts, the Justice Department, blocking any and all oversight or investigations into their abuses of power, using the FBI as their investigative arm, the military as their international enforcement arm, and the major broadcast and print media as their propaganda organ. It means understanding that smears, threats and intimidation are the favored tactic of The Party. Understanding that there is nothing The Party will not do, even politicizing the national tragedy of 9/11 and using it to justify a pre-planned war in an unrelated country, all the while using THAT to manipulate an election."These are trees. See the Forest. This is what Republicans DO. Don't listen to the words, they are only designed to confuse. Watch what they DO.
Update - A commenter in another post pointed out this similar smear.
Hooray For Alterman!
MSNBC - Altercation:
"I don’t see why anybody on earth needs more than say $10 or $20 million. Anything above that should be given away, and not to some fancy private school where you are just paying for a monument to yourself. Anyone who can’t live on $10 or $20 million, well, I have to stop now..."
Vote on whether Gore endorsed the correct candidate at VOTE.COM.
OK, for 2004 I resolve to make this weblog pay for itself! You wouldn't believe the time that I put into this. Not that you should care, but if you enjoy reading Seeing the Forest, please consider making a contribution once in a while to keep it going.
I have set up a PayPal "Make a Donation" button and an Amazon Honor System button, both visible on the left of this page. It's gotta be done. Please help out. I'll try to come up with better worded appeals, but fundraising has never been my specialty.
Updagte - I was thinking... (uh oh) ... if I can get 2 million people to give $100 each...
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I took out the Amazon "donate button" because they are a red company, helping fund the right.
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